Everything is connected. It used to be that hackers and cybercriminals were only targeting our computers and laptops, but over time EVERYTHING has become a computer, from our phones and televisions to cameras and household appliances. Not only that, but many of these devices are capable of interacting with one another as part of what’s called the Internet of Things.
This can allow for new and convenient solutions to old problems, but it also creates new potential points of entry for cybercrime. The more internet-capable devices you have in your household, the more opportunities you create for hackers to gain access to your personal information. However, modern cybersecurity has evolved along with the devices we use, so it is possible to protect all of them from potential harm.
But what devices need specific protection, and which can be better served through more general solutions?
Computers & Laptops
For a lot of people, their computer or laptop is their primary way of connecting to the internet, so they should usually be the starting point for protecting your home network. First of all, make sure that you have a firewall set up. Windows and macOS have built-in firewalls, so you’re already covered there. You should also invest in reputable cyber security and anti-virus software for all of your major devices. Use should also use a trusted VPN, which helps to secure the data transmitted on your home or public Wi-Fi. Finally, if you’re concerned about access to inappropriate content, online filtering software like Clean Internet can do the job.
Smart Phones & Tablets
These days nearly everyone has a mobile device of some kind, to the point where many people don’t even have designated computers anymore. This means that mobile devices are just as important when it comes to cybersecurity. Obviously, you should still invest in anti-virus software if your device doesn’t have some form of protection already. Beyond that, you should also be wary of downloading apps outside of the official app store, as they can potentially be riddled with malware. Lastly, be careful about logging into public Wi-Fi while out and about: open Wi-Fi is often an open invite for cybercriminals, so avoid using it without a VPN, especially if you’re using an app that requires you to enter personal information, such as Amazon or your bank’s app.
With the rise of the Internet of Things, some people have dozens of internet-capable devices in their homes right now, including TVs, printers, game consoles, and internet-enabled appliances. Some of these do have designated anti-virus programs, but many of them don’t need their own individual cybersecurity suite in order to stay protected, though there are certain steps you can take to stay protected.
- Check for Updates: People often forget to update smart TVs and other IoT devices, but system updates often bring valuable security fixes. Make sure to periodically check for software or firmware updates and install them right away.
- Use Strong Passwords & Two-Factor Identification: The simpler your password is, the easier it is for hackers to crack into your account. Try to use longer and more complex passwords, with different ones for every account if possible. Also, use two-factor identification whenever possible, just to make sure your account is safe even if someone figured out your password.
- Be Cautious of Shady Apps: Lots of apps ask for access to your device or your personal information. Sometimes this is reasonable, but other times it’s an obvious scam.
- Disable or Limit the Use of Cameras & Microphones: Many internet-capable devices have built-in webcams and microphones, with the latter being used for virtual assistants like Alexa. You can usually go into your settings to switch these off.
- Keep the Camera Covered: If a device has a camera and can’t be switched off, keep it covered when it’s not being used, as hackers will sometimes try to hack these devices to spy on people. Webcams typically come with a lens cover, but you can also use opaque black tape.
- Do Your Research Before You Buy: The main reason so many devices are becoming “smart” nowadays is that they can collect a lot of data. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should know what types of data these devices collect, how it’s stored, and if it’s shared with third parties.
When everything is connected to the internet, you need to check everything to make sure you’re secure. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so you can’t afford to leave even one device unsecured. So make the investment, take the time, and do your research. In the end, it will be worth it knowing that your home network is as secure as possible.