Extra steps to protect your home from hackers

The Riviera Beach City Council voted unanimously this week to pay the hackers' demands,...
The Riviera Beach City Council voted unanimously this week to pay the hackers' demands, believing the Palm Beach suburb had no choice if it wanted to retrieve its records, which the hackers encrypted.(Source: Gray News)
Updated: Jan. 21, 2020 at 5:35 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - More and more people are turning their homes into "smart homes.” The average American household has nine internet connected devices.

It’s estimated there are now more than one billion internet-connected devices in homes across North America. That number will nearly double by 2025.

Unfortunately, these devices can be hacked, and criminals need just one device to do so. That gives them access to your personal data, even video security systems and bank accounts. Hacking that one device, may be easier than you think.

A hacker can gain access to your device through a program that guesses passwords. It involves a list of frequently used passwords, or passwords collected from a site that’s already been hacked. Then with the click of a button, the program does the rest.

“Once it got to the very last password, it hit it and said, ‘yeah that works,’” cyber security expert Sarah Rees said.

After that, every account with that password is compromised. According to Rees, hackers often target smart devices in your home. From voice assistants to Smart Light bulbs, if it connects to the internet it can be compromised.

“Most people just put them on their home network, and when you put a device like that on your home network, if that device is vulnerable and someone is able to get into that home device, they now have access to everything connected to your home network,” Rees said. “Your laptop, your cellphone, your iPad, whatever you have connected to it.”

Here are some tips to help keep hackers off your home network. Make sure you are using all the security settings installed on your devices. That includes two-way factor authentication. If anyone tries to log into your account, they will not only need the password but also a pin number that is sent to your cellphone.

"I definitely think when you’re introducing something to your home network that’s a place you need to explore thoroughly and understand,” Rees said.

Rees also recommended not using the same password for all your accounts and devices.

“If you are trying to protect your bank account protect it with a strong password. Now if it’s your online local newspaper website where you read your news and they don’t have your credit card information and they don’t have anything except for maybe your email and name then yes you want to use a strong password, however don’t use the same password as you do on your bank account,” Rees said. “Because if the newspaper website has been targeted and breached that password if you’re using it for your bank account now your bank account is vulnerable.”

If you really want to protect your private information, try putting all your smart devices on a separate WiFi network.

“Have a protected network used for your laptops cellphones and those types of devices and have a totally separate network for all those other devices.”

The big thing to remember is not to rush through the set-up of these devices just so you can use them. You want to make sure they are set up securely and properly. If the device is worth having on your personal network, you should take that extra step to become tech savvy enough to protect your home.

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