Many of us will begin spring cleaning in the next few weeks, but this ritual doesn’t have to just include decluttering your home office, closets, and garage. This is also a good time of year to take inventory of the connected devices in your home.
From the obvious laptops, tablets and smartphones to the more overlooked smart thermostats, security cameras and voice assistants, knowing what’s connected to your home WiFi is the first step to ensuring each device has the latest firmware and helping identify any unknown connected gadgets that may pose a cyber threat.
Cyber-attack threats are up by as much as 12% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Comcast’s xFi Advanced Security Platform. Since last January, Comcast’s xFi Advanced Security has blocked nearly six billion cybersecurity threats – representing an average of about 104 per home, per month.
Preventing cyber attacks may sound like a daunting task, but you can reduce your chances of a threat and help protect your home network and the devices connected to it by employing a few simple habits.
Use multifactor authentication
If available, always enable multifactor authentication, which allows websites or services to confirm your identity using a combination of two or three distinct factors – typically something you know (a password or challenge question), something you have (a unique, time-sensitive code sent to your mobile phone) or something you are (a fingerprint or facial recognition on your phone). While it adds an extra step to logging in, it’s a simple and easy way to protect your accounts and information.
Have network protection…always
Check with your internet provider because there may be free or “value add” applications available to you. For example, Xfinity Internet customers are automatically protected by xFi Advanced Security, which provides a proactive barrier between their connected home and potential cyberattacks on the devices in their home.
Get the latest firmware updates for every connected device
When was the last time you did a firmware update on your smart thermostat, printer, webcam, or voice assistant? Those updates often add new security features or patch holes, so they are critical to maintaining security. If it’s an option, enable “auto updates” whenever you configure a new device to ensure they are always up-to-date and protected.
Be aware of all the devices on your home network and pause connectivity to any unknown device until you can determine whether it’s safe.
No screen can mean more vulnerability. Printers, thermostats, door locks, security cameras, and washers and dryers are increasingly equipped with network connectivity. But, without a detailed interface many consumers may not think there is a chance of an outside threat. Cyber criminals target them because devices without screens can be more easily hacked without the consumer even knowing it. In fact, more than four in five consumers would not be 100 percent confident they’d know if one of their non-screen devices had been hacked.
Connected homes certainly have changed how we live, work and play. Feel confident that you can do it securely by taking these steps and adding multiple layers of security to protect your connected home.
Rob Ponto is the senior public relations manager at Comcast and is a member of PRSA Detroit/programming committee.