• April 1, 2020

Criminals target the connected home: Simple steps to stay safe - Odessa American: Tech Talk & Innovation

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Criminals target the connected home: Simple steps to stay safe

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Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2020 2:43 pm

(BPT) - From smart coffee makers and vacuums to controlling your home with the touch of a button, connectivity reigns king in 2020. Smart devices in homes are on the rise, which means there has never been more digital connectivity for Americans. It also means there has never been more opportunity for savvy criminals looking to hack your devices.

The convenience of connected devices sometimes overshadows the potential risks. McAfee, a company dedicated to protecting what matters most to consumers, urges people to be aware of the security risks associated with having connected devices in the home, like baby cams and garage doors.

In fact, McAfee’s Advanced Threat research team recently investigated a garage door automation platform finding an inherent security flaw, and discovered a security design issue in a wearable device used for home access control. These both potentially expose people to online risks.

The good news is Americans are becoming more aware about the importance of protecting their privacy and identity. Even better, there are simple, cost-effective ways to help keep devices secure and personal information safe.

Research shows a mindset shift

The majority of Americans today (63%) stated that they as the consumer are responsible for their security while last year only 42% of Americans felt that they are responsible, according to new McAfee research. This shows that people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of protecting their privacy and identity.

Beyond the recognition of responsibility, there are growing security concerns. The research found 65% of people are concerned about the security of connected devices installed in their homes. More people are recognizing that security is a proactive effort that should be seamlessly integrated into everyday life.

Simple ways to boost security

How can you take charge and feel confident bringing new technology into your home? Keep the following tips in mind with all connected devices:

Don't default. Good habits like changing default codes and using unique passwords can go a long way to prevent your personal information from being stolen. Take simple steps like having strong passwords with numbers, letters and symbols. Use an online password management tool to track them in case you forget. Never use basic passwords like 12345 or your zip code. Criminals don't have to be geniuses to guess these.

Do your due diligence. It's important to research products and their manufacturers before making any purchase. This could save you from buying a device with a known security vulnerability. Do an online search with the product and manufacturer name along with terms like "problems" or "security issues" and see what the results say. If you find a manufacturer doesn’t have a history of taking security seriously, then it’s best to avoid it.

Use a comprehensive security solution. Use comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help identify malicious websites. A small investment today helps protect you and your family from potentially costly headaches down the road.

Always update promptly. Always use two-factor authentication and make sure to update device firmware for any security patches. When applications notify you that updates are available, don't put them off. Most of these updates include security patches to vulnerabilities. By pushing off updates you could leave yourself vulnerable. Don't delay to be OK.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This old adage is applicable in modern times, particularly when it comes to the connected home. Follow these steps and feel confident against cyber threats.

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