Tech Tip: Protecting Your Smart Devices

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Q. How safe is it to give smart gadgets the password to my Wi-Fi network? Should I be worried and what can I do?

A. As researchers have found vulnerabilities in internet-connected light bulbs, it is wise to be wary when connecting smart device to your home network. Wirelessly linked gadgets like security cameras, thermostats and baby monitors (usually called the Internet of Things) have been targets for intruders looking to invade or disrupt. A major cyberattack powered by compromised devices brought online traffic to a halt last fall, for example. A detailed post on the Heimdal Security blog can give you an idea of how intruders can abuse smart devices.

In many cases, weak security — on the network or the devices themselves — has left holes for hackers to climb through, but you can shore up your home defenses in a number of ways. For starters, make sure your home network router is using a strong password and not the default one it came with out of the box. Your router’s manufacturer should have instructions for changing the password.

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Some wireless routers let you set up a second network that you can use for smart devices, or visitors to keep them off your primary network. Credit The New York Times

You should also change any default passwords on your smart devices — and use different passwords for each one. Be sure to install any available firmware updates or security patches from the company that made the product.

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