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Today is July 15, 2020

Security tips for connected devices

By Abby Berry

Security tips for connected devices

As connected devices, like home monitoring and security cameras, become increasingly popular, it’s important that we know how to secure our digital lives.

Today’s market offers a plethora of new gadgets and devices that claim to make our homes smarter, safer and more efficient. But as with any new smart technology, consumers should take extra precautions to ensure these devices are secure. 
 
Internet-connected cameras have brought significant convenience to the way we monitor the security of our homes, children — even our furry family members! With the simple swipe of a smartphone, homeowners can instantly keep a watchful eye from afar. But in recent months, some consumers found themselves in scary situations when hackers were able to tap into internet-connected security cameras in their homes. This enabled the hackers to view and speak to the people, including children, inside the homes.
 
As connected devices become increasingly popular, it’s important that we know how to secure our digital lives. The U.S. Department of Commerce offers the following tips for protecting smart devices:
 
Get creative with passwords. Change your device’s factory security settings from the default password. This is one of the most important steps to take in the protection of internet-connected devices. Consider creating the longest passwords or passphrase permissible, and use familiar phrases you’ll remember, like the lyrics to your favorite song.
 
Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected devices are supported by a smartphone application. Your smartphone could be filled with apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved, gathering personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense.
 
Secure your network. Properly secure the wireless network you use for internet-connected devices. Consider placing these devices on a separate and dedicated network.
 
Connect and protect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game console, camera or other connected devices, the best defense is to stay on top of things by updating to the latest security software, web browser and operating system. If you have the option to enable automatic updates to defend against the latest risks, turn it on. 
 
Convenient, connected devices are here to stay — and unfortunately, so are the hackers. But by taking extra steps to safeguard your network and devices, you can keep your digital life secure as possible.
 
Abby Berry is a Mississippi native who writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape.
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