Alexa, how can I secure my smart home?

Smart home devices, such as smart TVs or intelligent speakers, are becoming increasingly popular. However, when they are connected to the Internet, they can also become dangerous. The Eco Association provides tips on how consumers can minimize the risks.

You can have fun with the intelligent speakers using voice commands such as “Alexa, can pigs fly?” or “OK ​​Google, what is the meaning of life?” Another area of ​​application is controlling smart home devices using voice input. “Smart home technologies have the potential to enrich people’s lives and give them more control over their living spaces,” explains Markus Schaffrin, Head of Member Services at the Eco Association.

A good third (38%) of Germans surveyed by Civey on behalf of the Eco Association already use such devices. Smart entertainment electronics are the most popular choice, with 26.1 percent of households using them, followed by intelligent speakers (13.7%) and smart heating or lighting control (11.6%). Intelligent household appliances, such as smart refrigerators, can only be found in 4.5 percent of those surveyed. “The networking of these devices also brings with it new challenges, particularly in terms of security,” says Schaffrin.

Securing your smart home is crucial to protect your privacy and prevent unauthorized access to your devices and personal data. Here are some steps you can take to secure your smart home:

1. Secure Your Network

  • Strong Passwords: Use a strong, unique password for your Wi-Fi network. Avoid common passwords and change default settings.
  • Encryption: Ensure your Wi-Fi network uses WPA3 encryption for the highest level of security.
  • Guest Network: Set up a guest network for visitors to keep your main network more secure.

2. Protect Your Smart Devices

  • Change Default Settings: Change default usernames and passwords on all smart devices.
  • Regular Updates: Keep the firmware of all your smart devices updated to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Disable Unused Features: Turn off features and services you don’t use to reduce potential attack vectors.

3. Use Strong Authentication

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA on your smart home accounts when available. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification.
  • Unique Passwords: Use unique passwords for each smart home device and account to minimize the risk if one is compromised.

4. Monitor and Control Access

  • Device Management: Regularly review the devices connected to your network and remove any that you don’t recognize or no longer use.
  • Access Permissions: Carefully manage and limit permissions for each device to only what is necessary.

5. Use Secure Applications and Services

  • Trusted Apps: Only install applications from reputable sources and developers.
  • Secure Platforms: Use smart home platforms with robust security practices, such as encrypted communication and frequent security updates.

6. Implement Physical Security

  • Router Placement: Place your router in a central location within your home to minimize the external signal range.
  • Secure Areas: Keep smart home hubs and control centers in secure locations to prevent physical tampering.

7. Educate Household Members

  • Awareness: Educate everyone in your home about the importance of cybersecurity and safe practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts and avoiding suspicious links.

8. Use Network Security Tools

  • Firewalls: Use a firewall to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic.
  • VPN: Consider using a VPN for an extra layer of encryption, especially when accessing your smart home devices remotely.

9. Regular Audits and Updates

  • Security Audits: Periodically review and audit your smart home security settings and device configurations.
  • Automatic Updates: Enable automatic updates where possible to ensure your devices receive the latest security patches.

10. Data Privacy

  • Review Data Sharing: Regularly review the data sharing and privacy settings of your devices and services.
  • Cloud Security: Ensure that any data stored in the cloud is encrypted and protected by strong security measures.

By following these steps, you can significantly enhance the security of your smart home, protect your personal data, and ensure a safer environment for you and your family.

Raising safety awareness

According to the survey, 61.4 percent of respondents are aware of potential security risks. “Consumers play an important role in the security of their smart home devices,” says Schaffrin. A good third (multiple answers) would like to implement the following measures:

  • Use of devices with security certification (38.6%)
  • Changing standard passwords (37.6%)
  • Some devices do not connect to the Internet (35.7%)

“By behaving consciously and implementing some proven security practices, users can minimize the risk of cyber attacks,” Schaffrin is convinced.


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