Michael Saunders & Company is proud to be one of the few real estate companies considered a Champion of Cybersecurity by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.
This week we’re addressing something our agents encounter frequently – smart-home technology. More and more of our home devices — including thermostats, door locks, and garage door openers — are now connected to the Internet. This enables us to control our devices on our smartphones, no matter our location, which in turn can save us time and money while providing convenience and even safety. These advances in technology are innovative and intriguing, however, they also pose a new set of security risks.
Protect your digital home with these 5 tips
- Secure your Wi-Fi Network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network and your digital devices by changing the factory-set default password and username.
- Double your login protection. Have you ever logged into an account from a new computer and your provider required a code to be entered that was texted to the cell phone number on record? That’s multi-factor authentication (MFA). Enable this setting to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device such as your smartphone, an authenticator app, or a secure token—a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring.
- If you connect it, protect it. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices, the best defense is to stay on top of things by updating to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. If you have the option to enable automatic updates to defend against the latest risks, turn it on. If you’re putting something into your device, such as a USB for an external hard drive, make sure your device’s security software scans for viruses and malware. Finally, protect your devices with antivirus software and be sure to periodically back up any data that cannot be recreated such as photos or personal documents.
- Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected appliances, toys, and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved—gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk.
- Check your app permissions. Use the “rule of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use. Learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.
What about when buying or selling a home?
If you’re a seller…be proactive in making sure any devices staying with the home, no longer have your personal data attached to them. An inventory list can be helpful when your Realtor is marketing your home. That way when the time comes to pack and move, you’ll be confident that nothing was left connected with your personal information.
If you’re a buyer…feel free to ask for a list of connected devices that are transferring with the purchase of your new home. Once closed, confirm the former owner no longer has access by going into each device’s settings/account. You can get more tips from your Realtor, but here are a few other things to consider.
- Reset access and guest codes for gates, doors, and garages
- Submit a change of ownership to device manufacturers and service providers
- Disable access to previous owners’ devices for thermostats, smart TVs, lighting, etc.
- Review the privacy practices of the connected devices
- Reset privacy and data sharing settings to reflect your preferences
Are you enjoying our Cybersecurity Awareness information? Let us know in the comments below. We’ll share more insights next week and ways you can safeguard your devices while on-the-go.