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September 16, 2020

Six ways to make sure you’re using smart home devices safely

For many of us, the thought of smart home devices conjures up images of Jetsons-style living—houses outfitted with nifty technology ranging from voice assistants to appliances that help you do everything from clean your house to ward off burglars.

But in today’s era of high-profile data breaches, how safe are smart home devices, really?

According to Eric Blank, editor at, smart home products are relatively safe to use—if you take the right precautions.

“I don’t worry about my smart home devices getting hacked any more than I worry about my smartphone’s camera and microphone getting hijacked,” Blank says. “But if you are someone who regularly has their email hacked or their computer infected with a virus, you may want to brush up on your security practices before you dive into the smart home.”

Max Eddy, security analyst at, recommends doing a little homework before you buy a smart home device.

“It’s important that you know what the device does before you bring it home and add it to your network,” he says.

Wondering how to keep your information secure while using smart home devices? Try these tips from technology experts.

Understand Privacy Policies

Many smart home devices track a user’s behaviors and transmit that information to the manufacturer. So, before purchasing a smart product, find out what data the device collects and who that data gets shared with, advises Eddy.

“This might not all be on the package, so it helps to look for news stories about particular products,” he says.

Keep Devices Updated with the Latest Firmware

Oftentimes, a smart home product’s software updates will update the device’s security protections, says Eddy. Check for updates periodically if your device doesn’t update automatically.

Change the Default Passwords

Many consumers make the mistake of using a smart home product’s default username and password, even though attackers often exploit preset passwords when attacking smart home devices.

“In the event that a device has a security vulnerability and your password is stolen, you don’t want all of your devices to suddenly be at risk,” Blank says.

Pro tip: Don’t reuse the same password. Also, consider using a password manager, such as LastPass or Zoho Vault, to create unique and strong passwords for your devices.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Though not available on all smart devices, two-factor authentication—a login setting that requires you to verify your identity using two different methods (e.g., a password and a cell phone text message)—adds an extra layer of security.

Avoid Brand-New Products

Wait to try the latest, greatest gadget. “I love being on the cutting edge and testing out the latest products,” says Blank. “However, if security was my No. 1 concern, I would let other early adopters be the guinea pigs.”

Secure Your Network

Using public Wi-Fi for your smart home devices is a bad idea. “Nefarious attackers can use what is known as a man-in-the-middle attack,” Blank says. “If you connect through an unsecured network, they can access any data you transmit through your smartphone.”

Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.