How to Protect Your Smart Home

When you’re making your breakfast in a smart frying pan using eggs from the smart tray in the smart fridge with a recipe from your smart voice assistant and waiting on the coffee in your smart Keurig, you might stop and wonder, “How do I keep all this from being hacked or compromised? How do I protect my smart home?”

If that sounds familiar, we have some suggestions for you. Let’s talk about how you can increase protection for your smart home devices.

1. Encrypt your Wi-Fi

Norton suggests using encryption like WPA2 when setting up your route.¹ You should be able to do this locally using a computer or smartphone connected to the router.

Encrypting a network is not an intuitive process for the average person, so we suggest you find a guide specific to your router type.

Heads Up icon
VPN
Add an extra layer of protection to your network by using a VPN. Even if you choose not to use one at home, we recommend them when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network.

2. Watch your passwords

Some malicious hackers use tech like signal jammers to get into your smart home network. But in all honesty, the biggest breach opportunity is your login info.

To protect your smart device accounts, we suggest taking some password-related steps.

Don’t repeat passwords from other accounts

Always create a new password for your account. If you borrow a password from another site and that company is compromised in a data breach, your smart home will be vulnerable. And vice versa.

Feminine hands typing

Don’t share passwords or codes with people who don’t live in your home

It might be tempting to share your smart lock code with your babysitter, but don’t do it. Instead, look for smart devices and services that allow temporary guest passwords/codes. That way, you can give someone else easy access without compromising the entire system.

Update your passwords frequently

If your password is ever shared or breached, frequent updates will quickly render it useless.

Enable two-factor authentication

You know when you’re logging in and you receive a code on your phone or in your email? And you enter that code in tandem with your password? That’s two-factor authentication.

This two-factor wrinkle makes it more difficult or even impossible for another person to log in. If someone gets ahold of your password, they also need your personal device to access your accounts.

Use a password manager

If you struggle with passwords, use a password manager.

If you struggle with generating and remembering passwords, use a password manager on your phone and/or computer. All the passwords stay locked under a master password that you choose.

To fully use a password manager, you do have to use the same device to log into an account every time. If you use a different device, your passwords won’t be saved there.

3. Update your equipment

Sometimes the equipment itself is a gateway to a security breach. Luckily, those vulnerabilities are fairly easy to fix.

Change generic equipment and equipment settings

Sometimes, you have to switch a piece of equipment for something better. For instance, you might have a garage door remote that’s “universal,” which means someone else’s remote could open your garage. In that case, you might want to upgrade.

You may also want to change the way a piece of equipment is set up. Your garage door opener might come with a pre-programmed passcode that’s the same as a bunch of other garage door openers’. Make sure to change that ASAP.

Factory reset devices before selling

If you decide to sell a piece of smart equipment, factory reset it first.² Otherwise, it might stay connected to your smart home system, giving access to the equipment’s new owner.

Light Bulb icon
When the power goes out
We suggest getting a backup generator for any smart home devices. If your power goes out, your smart home will no longer work. More than that, the outage could leave your home physically vulnerable if the home security system runs out of battery.

4. Watch out for phishing and other scams

Sometimes hackers send you an unsolicited text or email with a link. If you click the link, the sender gets access to all kinds of things on your device. That could include your name, your address, your credit card number, or your passwords.

To keep your smart home (and your identity) safe, don’t click on unexpected links.

Recap

Your smart home is more likely to stay safe if you do the following:

  • Protect your Wi-Fi
  • Keep your passwords close to the chest
  • Update your equipment
  • Watch out for hacker tricks

Enjoy your smart setup, worry-free.

Smart home protection FAQ

How do I set up a smart home?

We’re glad you asked! Setting up a smart home isn’t too complicated. And we have a comprehensive guide to help you out.

Which smart home products should I use?

There are tons of good smart home options, from Amazon to Google and everything in between.

You generally want to start with a smart home hub with a voice assistant and connecting app. Then you can choose compatible products like plugs, lights, locks, home security, and cameras. And don’t forget a smartphone to control all your new IoT devices!

Some products, like Ring or SimpliSafe cameras or the Bitdefender Box, have had publicized breaches. If you follow our safety tips, you hopefully won’t be vulnerable to such attacks, but it’s good to check and see how the manufacturer handles those situations. You don’t want to put your safety in the hands of a cavalier company.

Which security system should I get?

Most popular modern security systems are smart home-compatible. We’re especially partial to Vivint and SimpliSafe.

Info Box icon
What are the best security hubs?
There’s typically a difference between a security hub (used as the nervous system for security devices) and a smart home hub (used to control a smart home). Sometimes there’s crossover if you use standalone security devices controlled by a central Google Home or Amazon Echo. Generally, though, with the rise of the app, the security hub distinction is less important. You’ll execute most functions through your smartphone anyway.

Should I get a video doorbell to protect my home?

If you own a home or live in an apartment with a doorbell, a video doorbell camera is a smart move. These IoT devices add an extra layer of security and might even prevent package theft.

You can learn more in our smart video doorbell guide.

  1. Steve Symanovish, Norton, “12 Tips to Help Secure Your Smart Home and IoT Devices.” Accessed September 11, 2020.
  2. Emily Ferron, Safety.com, “Why Hackers Target Smart Homes & 7 Tips to Protect Yours,” August 27, 2020. Accessed September 11, 2020.