How to Improve the Security of Your Smart Home Devices

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How to Improve the Security of Your Smart Home Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) provides you with new technologies to accomplish and automate tasks. It can also help you do things easier and more efficiently. As you utilize more IoT devices it becomes more important to verify and/or improve the security of your smart home devices.

The average home in the U.S. has a dozen or more connected devices in it. With the widespread acceptance and increased coverage of 5G, the number of smart home devices will increase. It’s important to verify or improve the security of your smart home devices.

Secure Your Home Network Wireless Router ~ First Step

Your smart home wireless router is your gateway to the Internet. This is your first line of defense against hackers. Whether you use a router supplied by your Internet service provider or use your own, proper setup is critical for securing your network.

If you suspect your router has been infected by malware there is a free tool that can check it for you. It’s a good idea for you to run this check before changing any settings. It is called the F-Secure Router checker.

It will quickly check your router for infections and vulnerabilities. If your router is infected with malware you will be notified and given recommendations. If there are no issues, you’ll see results similar to this:

Unlike traditional wired local networks, wireless networks are not confined within the walls of your house. This section discusses how to set up and secure a Home Network Wireless Router. After securing your wireless router then you can improve the security of your smart home devices.

Depending on your type of signal and networking equipment, your signal may be able to be detected as far away as 1000 feet. If your wireless signal is not secure it may expose sensitive data to malicious actors or may allow your Internet connection to be used by unauthorized persons.

A malicious user or hacker who has gained access to your smart home network may be able to:

To ensure your network is secure and private there are certain precautions that should be taken. Yes, you may need to improve the security of your smart home devices, but first, you must ensure your wireless router is properly set up.

The first step is to always replace the default name and password of any new device. This should be done the first time you power on the device. Use a unique name for your router, one that does not give away location info. And, be sure your password is unique and complex.

For valuable tips and secure setup instructions for your home wireless router refer to this detailed article, Securing Your Wireless Router. Your wireless router will have the capability to set up a separate network, a segmented network, that your smart home devices will use.

Using the admin login procedure specific to your router you can check firewall settings, create a network segment (or guest account) for your smart devices. Within the user interface, there are many options and settings available. Most routers offer an interface similar to the one below.

On some routers, segmentation is accomplished by creating a guest account that can be used for IoT devices. However, most newer routers have the capabilities to create specifically segmented networks. The example above offers a separate tab that addresses subnets.

Keep in mind, that for some devices to work they must be able to interact with other devices. So, all of your IoT and smart home devices should be connected to the same network segment. There are many available smart devices for home networks.

The advantages of segmenting your network are two-fold. It helps to organize your smart home network devices, but more importantly, it is done to increase the security of the smart home network. The idea is that devices on one segment can not reach devices that are on a separate segment.

That means that your home office computers and devices will be isolated from your smart home devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of many different types of devices, usually manufactured and supported by many different companies. Segmenting prevents any IoT vulnerability from affecting the important devices on your home network.

Enterprises and large organizations use segmenting techniques to enhance their network security posture. Segmenting can also improve network performance, improve monitoring capabilities, and allow for simpler management of devices.

When using a device that uses an Internet connection, like computers and cellphones, consider using a Virtual Private Network. Find out all about VPNs, and how to use one, in this article about VPNs.

This article may be focused on improving the security of your smart home devices but maintaining the security and integrity of your entire home network is important.

  • How do You Improve the Security of Your Home Network

    Regularly Update Device Firmware and Software

    Install a Firewall Between Network and the Internet

    Always use Current Encryption Schemes on Wireless Networks

    Remove Applications and Services you don’t use

    Never Use Default Login Configurations

    Always use Complex and Unique Passwords

    Run Anti-virus and Anti-malware Software on All Devices

    Always maintain Current Backups

Why it’s Important to Secure Your Smart Devices for Home Networks

Just like with all other types of networks protecting your smart home network is necessary to protect your confidential and personal information. Another important aspect to consider is your privacy, like, your conversations, and your actions.

To better understand why you must secure your smart home network devices there are two words to focus on: Privacy and Security.


Privacy is the act of protecting personally identifiable and other sensitive information.


Security is the technologies and methods that protect against unauthorized access to data.

Security Issues With Smart Home Devices

The Internet of Things has changed the way we function in our homes. It has added security, convenience, and ways to conserve resources. The IoT has also just flat out made our lives more enjoyable. But, it has also introduced another area of vulnerability.

Smart home devices come in many shapes and sizes. They can be as small a smart light switch, or as large as an entire heating and air conditioning system. No matter what size they are, they all have one thing in common; they connect to the Internet.

They also can collect and store information. In fact, they sometimes must collect and store information to perform the tasks we want them to. You rely on manufactures to improve the security of your smart home devices.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that more than 75% of IoT devices are vulnerable to one or more types of attacks. It is important that you acknowledge these vulnerabilities and take precautions to improve the overall security of your smart home network.

Smart home devices may be vulnerable to one of the common cybersecurity threats that you must protect against. Some of the common threats are:

Those are just a few of the vulnerabilities that exist. As you and the industry improve the security of your smart home devices and the networks that support them many vulnerabilities will be mitigated.

For the time being many IoT devices will be vulnerable to malicious attacks. As more and more smart home devices are being created there is a need for regulations and standards concerning device security.

What about cybersecurity standards for IoT devices?

The Internet of Things and smart home devices are good in many ways. However, the IoT environment is still maturing. It is a lack of awareness issue. Not just with the manufacturers of these devices, but with the end-users. Here are a few of the challenges regarding security that must be dealt with:

A big issue with IoT devices has been the lack of universal security standards. Organizations within the industry have yet to agree on how to protect smart home devices. The problem exists with all IoT devices.

Several governments and industry organizations have created sets of standards in an attempt to improve the security of IoT devices. In spite of these efforts the industry still has not aligned its practices to any one set of standards.

So, what’s being done about it?

The U.S. Government needs to step in, and they have. Previous industry efforts to create and follow security standards have failed. Can the U.S Government force manufacturers to comply with a set of security standards? They are a big customer in the IoT industry.

The standard recently put in place may only apply to IoT devices purchased by the U.S. Government, but it will create more standardization during manufacturing that will be of benefit to civilian consumers. The National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) is making recommendations based on new standards and is being adopted globally.

How to Improve the Security of Your Smart Home Devices

You now know what some of the vulnerabilities with IoT devices are. It can be a scary conversation. It’s not necessary to give up the benefits of smart home devices. There are risks, but they can be dealt with and you can have a secure smart home. But, how do we go about it?

We have discussed the importance of securing your wireless router, and the importance of segmenting your smart home devices from your main network. The technology we are beginning to love is not going away. As you continue to add new devices always verify and improve the security of your smart home devices.

If you improve the security of your smart home devices

hackers will give up and find an easier target

Here are some easy ways to protect your smart home devices:

Always purchase IoT devices from trusted manufacturers. Never use default passwords. In a home office environment always segment your smart home devices from your household and home office wireless network.

Security and Privacy checklist to use when buying new devices

The organization “” points out a great resource to use when buying new smart home devices. The smart device checklist was created by the Online Trust Alliance. The checklist covers privacy and security considerations.

It’s a great resource to use so you can buy smart home devices with confidence. The smart device checklist points out several important things to consider. You can download it from the Online Trust Alliance, or get the security and privacy buying guide here.

While out in public ~ general guidelines

Don’t use a public Wi-Fi connection without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Do not connect an IoT device for the first time while in public. And, do not accept connection requests that are not expected.

Always turn off services on your cellphone you are not using, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location services, and use Airplane Mode when appropriate.

About Your Privacy When Using Smart Devices in Your Home

Can we have our cake and eat it too? Can we have a decent amount of privacy when using IoT devices? Our smart homes and the devices that are being used in them are data collectors. Without the ability to collect data the concept of a smart home does not exist.

Your smart devices are constantly collecting data. Privacy and security go hand-in-hand. Something as simple as your morning routine requires that your smart home devices collect a vast amount of data:

The night before the smart home devices find out what time you want the alarm to wake you up. But first, it needs to know what time to activate the smart coffee maker. The devices need to know which lights to turn on, where to set the thermostat, and what music station to play.

All smart home devices have one thing in common; they all collect data about you and your habits. Your smart doorbell knows who’s outside and when they visit. Smart refrigerators know what food you consume. Your smart toothbrush knows long you brush your teeth. Well, you get the idea.

The data that the devices collect is valuable to someone. Security aside, how about our privacy. The companies that sell us these devices are, in some cases, selling our information about our habits, and our lifestyles. The data may be recorded anonymously, but it’s still our data, or is it?

Here’s an example of how valuable that data is to some companies; Google gave me a free Google Home Mini. It provides the company with quite a bit of data. Data like what I listen to on Spotify, the information they can get from my shopping list, and other valuable data. Not all companies use or sell your data, but some do.

Research the smart devices you are considering

There will be a written policy online for most devices that will outline data security and privacy practices. The policy should also outline data collection, data use, and data storage policies. This is where they must tell you how they use your data.

For example, when you access the Google Nest Privacy Policy online they offer an entire list of topics and scenarios. It’s up to you to read them and know how your personal data is being treated. Below is a screenshot of Google Nest privacy topics that they make available.

The bottom line with your privacy

You must be aware of the data a company collects about you in return for using their device. Read the privacy policies (boring stuff, I know) pertaining to any new device you add to your smart home network.

Research the opt-out options you have. You need to understand the information you are providing and the privacy you are giving up. Determine if you are willing to do so in exchange for a service, or the use of a product.


A malicious user or hacker who has gained access to your smart home network may be able to view information about your system and have access to files on your computer or other devices.

Also, they may be able to see the websites you are browsing and possibly capture log-in names and passwords. When they gain access to your system devices they may infect them with malware that can spread. They may use your Internet connection to download copyrighted or illegal material subjecting you to a criminal investigation.

Always start by ensuring your wireless router is secure. Unlike traditional wired local networks, wireless networks are not confined within the walls of your house. After securing your wireless router then you can improve the security of your smart home devices.

Just like with all other types of networks protecting your smart home network is necessary to protect your confidential and personal information. Another important aspect to consider is your privacy, like, your conversations, and your actions.

Read more: What’s the best Free Password Manager for Students?

Read more: Don’t Become a Victim of Cybercrime – Read This!

Read more: Protect yourself from online Identity theft

Read more: Would you know if you were a victim of a cybercrime?

Read more: Understanding the Deep Web and the Dark Web

Read more: Protect Your Identity from being stolen on the Internet

Read more: Why It’s Important to Secure Your Home Router and How-to

Read more: Network and Smart Device Security at Home

Read more: How to Secure Your Personal Area Network (PAN)

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