The average home now has more than 10 connected devices, which are quickly becoming a huge target for hackers. These devices have sensors that can tell if we’re home and cameras and microphones to see and hear into our retreats. Worst, these smart devices can also aid in identity theft.
How can you know if your home is safe? And what can you do to protect yourself and your kids? Here are a few simple tips:
1. Check your devices. Checking your cell phones and smart home devices for privacy settings seems like an easy and obvious start, but don’t forget to check your children’s toy box. There are more smart toys now that are connected, making them a target for identity theft. Make sure the toy doesn’t require personal information. Also, make sure it’s from a reputable company that will provide software patches to address security issues. Many of these toys also have microphones and cameras, so make sure there is an off switch so you can control when the toy is listening to you.
2. Invest in a secure WiFi router. Your router is the front door to your connected home and having a router with security and intrusion detection built-in can help keep a watchful eye on all the devices in your home. It can act as a firewall to prevent your devices from being hacked and it can warn you if there is something unusual going on with your webcam.
3. Change the default password. Many routers, webcams, and devices come with default passwords from the manufacturer. The hackers know that and oftentimes, these passwords are posted on the internet boards that hackers frequent. It’s a slight hassle when setting up, but you can save yourself a bunch of hassle down the road with just one fix.
4. Talk to your kids about sharing their information online. Help your kids understand the importance of online privacy. Make sure they know what appropriate online behavior looks like – especially when it comes to live streaming. Popular social apps such as Instagram and Snapchat all have live videos that are very easy to start. Make sure your kids understand that these live video feeds can be recorded and shared. So think before you share. How they interact with someone online should be no different than how they would interact with them in person.
5. Connect with your kids offline. Keep an open dialogue with your kids so they don’t feel like they have to hide anything from you. There are innocent-looking apps like a calculator that can hide pictures or videos that your kids may be keeping. Some even have a hidden browser. They can access the hidden features by typing in a number. Hint - a give away is a calculator app using a lot of memory. Provide your children with love and acceptance so they are not seeking out superficial acceptance online with social media.