How to Protect Your Connected Gadgets in the New Year

How to Protect Your Connected Gadgets in the New Year

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It’s gift season once again. All the latest gadgets for the modern home from TVs to refrigerators to light bulbs connect to the internet.

In North America, the number of smart homes is expected to hit 73 million by 2021, according to reports.

While those connected devices might make life more convenient, such as your fridge creating your grocery list, there’s also a darker side.

Smart appliances often have little protection from hackers making it easy for cybercriminals to hijack devices.

In 2014, hackers created a “botnet” to carry out another nefarious attack by compiling 100,000 devices including routers, TVs and even a smart fridge.

How can you protect your connected home? Here are three things you can do.

First, experts say keep hackers out of your email and other accounts.

Most connected devices can be operated remotely through apps or online portals. Use multifactor authentication, which goes beyond the password, whenever possible.

Second, complete security updates especially on new devices.

Most smart home devices do not update automatically, so security experts recommend checking for firmware updates through apps or online portals once a month.

Third, don’t keep your devices on the same network as your primary computer.

By segregating internet connections, it can reduce the risk of hacking across devices, says Jerry Irvine, chief information officer of Chicago-based security firm Prescient Solutions.

You can purchase a separate internet connection, or split an existing internet connection using a virtual local area network (VLAN). It might sound complicated, but an IT company or service like the Geek Squad can easily configure it, Irvine suggested.

Read about even more ways to keep your smart devices safe at MarketWatch.com.