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How to Secure Your Smart Home: 5 Tips and Best Practices

Learn how to protect your home and smart devices with five simple tips that won’t break the bank.

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Smart homes are all the rage, with refrigerators that help curate your grocery list to doorbells that record all of your Amazon deliveries and everything in between.

The latest smart home data shows that over 60 million households in the US are actively using smart home devices in 2023, defined as using them at least once a month.

With mortgage loans now including options for smart home additions and funding, smart home devices are growing in popularity as homeowners move towards modernizing their homes.

But let's not forget that great technology comes with great responsibility, which means potential security risks. Don't worry, though. We've got you covered.

Here are five simple yet effective tips to help you secure your smart home and protect the precious data these devices collect from your every move.

1. Secure your home network

What do all of your smart devices have in common? They're all connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

So if hackers can tap into your home network, they can instantly access your smart gadgets. And that's a scary thought.

Understanding your current security measures is the first step to avoiding this dreaded fate. Use data storytelling techniques to better understand your home network's security vulnerabilities. That way, you can take the necessary steps to bridge those gaps.

If you haven't done enough to protect yourself, it's time to invest in better cyber security. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) might be the first thing that comes to your mind for protection, but an even better solution is available at your fingertips.

If you are looking for one thing to secure your Wi-Fi, it's this: WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3) encryption. Why? This security protocol is specifically designed for wireless networks.

It focuses on securing the connection between your devices and your Wi-Fi router, protecting your data from unauthorized access and eavesdropping while transmitted over your home Wi-Fi network.

WPA3 is the latest version of this protocol and offers several improvements over its predecessors, including stronger encryption methods and better protection against password-guessing attacks.

an illustration of Multi-channel man in the middle attackMulti-channel man in the middle

So what about a VPN? WPA3 encryption and VPNs serve different purposes for securing your home network, but they can work together to provide comprehensive protection from bad actors.

A VPN is a service that secures and encrypts your entire internet connection, not just the Wi-Fi piece. When you connect to a VPN, your data is encrypted and routed through a remote server. This process masks your IP address and makes it more difficult for people to track your online activities or intercept your data.

WPA3 encryption for your Wi-Fi network and a VPN for your internet connection can provide comprehensive security for your home network and smart devices, ensuring your data remains private and protected from potential threats.

But don't stop there. Consider setting up a separate guest network for visitors, preventing unauthorized access to your main network and smart devices.

2. Keep your devices and software up-to-date

Are you one of those people that clears all notifications on your smartphone? Or the one that has 1,365 unread email messages? This tip is your top priority if you fall into the latter category.

Why? Keeping your smart home devices and software up-to-date is crucial for maintaining the security and performance of your smart home.

a screenshot of an iOS nofification taken from a post on Apple.comiOS update notificationApple

Yes, don't ignore those little red notifications. Manufacturers often release firmware and software updates that address security vulnerabilities or enhance the overall security of their products.

Regularly updating your apps and devices can protect them from potential threats, including hackers and malware. Not to mention these updates can also bring performance enhancements, bug fixes, and new features that improve the overall functionality and user experience of your smart devices.

For example, many pet owners use smart cameras, sensors, feeders, or trackers to monitor their pet's activity, diet, location, or vital signs.

Since these devices can help you detect any health issues early and prevent costly vet bills, you want them running at peak performance. If you forget to upgrade your software, your live feed could stop working, or the food dispenser might not automatically adjust for daylight savings.

It's a no-brainer to prioritize these gadgets to keep your pets healthy. Plus, some pet insurance companies, like Pumpkin, may also offer discounts or rewards for using the most up-to-date smart home devices to care for your pets.

To benefit from the latest protections and improvements of your smart devices, follow these simple steps:

  • Regularly check for updates and install them when available
  • Enable automatic updates where possible
  • Schedule updates during low-use times (e.g., overnight or when you're away from home)
  • Be cautious when using third-party software and apps

3. Use strong, unique passwords for smart home devices

Your security measures are only as strong as your weakest password. Creating strong passwords for your smart devices is the easiest (and most cost-effective) way to secure your smart home, especially if you’re running a small business from home.

Say goodbye to passwords like Apple123 or Janet1929 and hello to something more like @gz%oC6WY6OE.

Keep these tips in mind when creating robust passwords in the future:

  • Include uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters (e.g.,!, @, #, $) in your password to increase the complexity.
  • Aim for at least 12–16 characters in length. Longer passwords are generally more difficult to crack.
  • Refrain from using easily identifiable information such as your name, birthdate, or common words associated with you.
  • Avoid using common phrases, words, or keyboard patterns (e.g., "password123," "qwerty," or "12345678").
  • Don't reuse passwords across multiple accounts or networks.

And if you need help keeping track of all these long, hard-to-remember passwords, try out a password manager to do it for you.

Free Trial: 1Password Families 14-Days

4. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Sadly, hackers are always looking for new ways to access your personal information, and passwords alone are no longer enough to protect yourself.

That's why you should enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA is a process that requires you to provide more than one piece of evidence to prove your identity, such as a code sent to your phone or a fingerprint scan.

MFA diagramHow MFA works in securing your smart home devices.Fusion Auth

That way, even if someone steals your password, they won't be able to access your account without the second factor.

To make the most of MFA:

  • Enable it on all devices and platforms that support it.
  • Choose a secure authentication method, such as an authenticator app or biometrics.

5. Be cautious with voice-activated smart assistants

Nest Audio smart speaker with Google AssistantNest Audio smart speaker with Google Assistant Google

Voice-activated assistants are a blessing and a curse. You can ask these devices anything from "What's the weather outside?" to "How many cups are in a gallon?". They even turn your living room lights on or shut off the heat simply.

But these devices are always on (read: listening) to be available at your beck and call. These "robot assistants" raise various privacy concerns, not to mention the new integration of artificial intelligence, which is sounding the red alarm for top tech executives.

After the introduction of ChatGPT and the growth of AI writers, Elon Musk and other prominent tech leaders signed an open letter requesting a six-month pause in the race for AI development for regulation to catch up.

Why? Well, privacy concerns, of course. But have you ever seen the movie I, Robot? If not, all you need to know is that we don't want robots to destroy civilization as we know it.

But seriously, in 2021, there were over 389,000 reported cases of credit card fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

So the next time you use your voice-activated smart assistants, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, take the extra steps to protect your sensitive information. The last thing you want to expose is sensitive financial data like credit card numbers or banking information on how you’re planning on paying for college. Imagine if that ended up in the hands of a hacker (or a third party, for that matter).

Here are a few ways to help protect yourself on these voice-activated devices:

  • Configure the privacy settings to limit data collection and sharing.
  • Disable voice purchases or require a confirmation code before completing transactions.
  • Mute the microphone when not in use to prevent accidental recordings.

Secure your smart home today

Your home is your haven. Don't let hackers take that away from you, especially when you use smart devices to automate the mundane tasks you hate or feed your pets an extra treat while at work.

Follow these five tips and best practices to help safeguard your personal data, protect your privacy, and enjoy a more secure and efficient smart home experience.

Use The GearBrain to help you find, buy and connect the latest and greatest smart devices with built-in security features to secure your smart home today. You won't regret it.

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About the Author:

Ryan Robinson is a blogger, podcaster, and (recovering) side project addict that teaches 500,000 monthly readers how to start a blog and grow a profitable side business at

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