3 Tips to Be a Wise Smart Device Shopper

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Who would not be amazed by talking speakers, light bulbs that have adjustable brightness, robot vacuums, and other smart devices?

Smart home gadgets are absurdly awesome and you will be surprised with what tricks and skills these digital roommates can do.

Although the Internet of Things laid a long list of benefits and advantages, these IoT gadgets are still merely computers that come with comparable security risks.

Research found out that LIFX smart bulbs hoard Wifi passwords with no encryption at all. So by disposing of a LIFX bulb in the garbage, you have made breaching your Wifi network as simple as scavenging.

Home devices can be jeopardized by another device connected to the same network. A Trojan horse would not leave any internet-connected device to attack, even though claim they are secured.

With several connected devices controlled by a single app, one compromised device can probably reconfigure all of them. Someone could easily access your smartphone and unlock your whole house while you are still on the shower.

If poorly secured, smart gadgets can even become weapons in the wrong hands. Brian Krebs, a well-known cybersecurity expert, fought with a botnet in 2016 that mainly composed of cheap smart cameras with poor security.

Well, at least for now, stories about data from smart bulbs popping open smart locks for thieves to take smart TVs are theoretical.

The IoT is awesome, but it can pose a serious threat especially in your privacy and security. Here are 3 tips to be a wise and smart gadget shopper.

  1. Know what you are buying

Regardless of its name, many smart devices are used for particularly smart purposes.

Adobe, in 2018, surveyed people and found that most people use smart speakers to play audio content like music, news, and weather, and for setting alarms. These speakers come in handy, especially when your hands are tied up with stuff. But do not forget that your smartphone can still perform these features.

Given that, contemplate whether it is a need for you to buy a smart device. Will it be more convenient and useful to chat with your washing machine, or are you well off with the “dumb” version that would not leak your email?

Furthermore, consider where a smart device fit into your life and what a turmoil would it cause if the data it has collected could be used to turn against you. Are you willing to share your personal data with it? How much do you trust the brand selling the device?

  1. Understand how secure a device is

Smart or not, prior to purchasing an internet-connected device, see to that you determine its security features, setup process, and settings.

If the device uses a web portal, learn if the portal has an “HTTP” prefix that shows it is secure. Check if the web portal site uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to guarantee secure communications among applications, particularly if it is sharing your personal data. Someone could hijack your data in transit if you do not pose counter-measures.

When a device uses an app, research what permissions the manufacturer wants and what they do with the information they gathered. Be sure to only download apps from first-party app stores. Apple runs malware scans and conduct developer background checks during its app verification process. Google has an internal program that scans apps for malware and marks them as verified by Google Play Protect.

Confirm that you can manually set passwords or verification processes in your device. Avoid devices that use “hard-coded” passwords, where the password for every device made by the company is the same.

If the gadget you are considering allows guests to control it remotely, see whether that feature can be turned off, a setting that is often listed under “remote-management access.”

For devices that communicate with a server like security cameras, learn how they send out data. Most preferably, they should use end-to-end encryption, which keeps data private, even from the company that runs the servers. This security feature is uncommon in older smart home devices but is more common in newer ones.

  1. Buy brand names

Products with a brand-name are not any more secure compared to those made by a manufacturer you have never heard of. However, popular brands have more possibilities to fix issues by firmware updates and to acknowledge problems publicly.

Well-known brands will also update their apps and software regularly. If an app has not been updated in a while, it could be a security risk, as regular updates protect the device from newly discovered errors, bugs, and other problems.

Brands may also notify you when they are about to stop supporting a product. The alerts they send you are crucial because as technology ages there is less incentive for the manufacturer to fix newfound security issues. You know it is time to get rid of a smart home device if the manufacturer no longer supports it.

Technology has become a partner in our everyday lives. As our homes, without a doubt, is becoming smarter and smarter it is helping us, consumers, to save energy and money.

All technology has its cons, and it is very important to watch out for issues before they could be used against us.