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Consumers International and the Internet Society have created a 90-second video, bringing to life some of the security issues with smart devices in the home and helping people to connect SMART!
Smart products in our home
Connections between smart products and objects are rapidly expanding but unfortunately, many are rushed to market with little consideration for basic security and privacy protections. Worryingly some products are so insecure that someone with minimal hacking skills can access cameras and microphones, steal your personal information, or even communicate directly with children or adults in the house. These products can also function as a gateway to other smart devices in the home.
There is currently no effective regulation of these products, and little consumer understanding of how they function or their faults.
To help consumers understand the issue and give them some practical advice about how to protect themselves, and connect SMART, together with the Internet Society, we have created some top tips.
S – search for potential security and privacy issues before buying
Search the product online for reviews or news articles that identify security or privacy issues. Check whether you can make your device more secure by changing the password and adjusting the privacy settings. Confirm if the device receives regular software updates so any security vulnerabilities can be fixed.
M – make strong, unique passwords for each device
Generic default passwords can be easily identified and allow attackers to gain access. Set strong, unique passwords for each device, service and your home router. The longer the password the better; mix upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters to increase the strength.
A – adjust settings for maximum security and privacy
Many devices and services come with minimal security protection by default and collect significant amounts of important information about you – so change your settings for greater security and privacy. Also plan to reset your device regularly. If attackers do access your device, malicious code is often stored in memory and a reset will clear it. If you become aware of an incident that may affect your device, visit the manufacturer’s website or contact the retailer where you bought it for information on what to do next.
R – regularly update software
If the device or app has an auto-update feature, turn it on. Find out how to check for software updates for each device and do it once a month. Most companies will release updates when they patch security vulnerabilities. Also accept updates for the apps on your mobile phone that control your device.
T – turn off features you don’t need and device when not in use
Lots of features on your device can continue to monitor you even when you don’t expect or need them to. To avoid this, disable cameras, microphones, or location tracking apps when you are not actively using them. And, if you are not using the device, turn it off.
You can find out more at www.connect-smart.org.
Our work on securing consumer trust in the Internet of Things
Alongside our work to empower consumers on this issue, Consumers International is working with manufacturers, retailers, and regulators to create safer, and more privacy respecting products.
“People rightly want to buy the latest technology. They want the make use of the innovation, convenience and choice that smart products offer us. But they don’t want to, and shouldn’t have to, compromise on their security and privacy to do this. It’s not just about consumer education, though this is an important part, manufacturers and retailers must ensure the products they are putting on the market are built with consumers’ needs and wants in mind.”