Are you in control of your smart home technology or is it in control of you?

These days, “lights, camera, action” isn’t simply heard on movie sets. When using your smart home gadgets, you’re just as likely to say it in your own house.

Although utilizing an app for security, lighting, or entertainment may appear to be straightforward, you must learn how to safeguard your privacy and personal information in this new era of home luxury.

We sought advice from two experts: Hank Schless, senior manager of security solutions at Lookout, a mobile security provider; and Scott McKinley, assistant vice president of Pocket Geek Home. Both replied via email, and their responses were edited.

Are you in control of your smart home technology or is it in control of you?

Question & Answers

How do you determine whether your house has enough bandwidth to support more smart home technology?

Schless: Many Internet service providers offer applications that show you how much data and bandwidth your linked devices consume. The providers will also specify the maximum number of devices that each of their plans can accommodate.

McKinley: You may have varied demands depending on the quantity of smart home tech devices you have in your home and the sort of techie you are. If you’re a casual user (you utilize a streaming service to watch TV, you have one or two smart devices, etc. ), you should strive for speeds of around 20 to 50 Mbps [megabits per second]. If you have many 4K TVs, smart home gadgets, plus a gamer or two in the house, you should strive for speeds of 100 Mbps or more. Remember that just because you have speed doesn’t necessarily imply you have coverage. You must ensure that you complete a speed test.

You need to make sure you perform a speed test from various points of your home to determine your coverage

If the coverage in the location where you wish to deploy a device is weak, you might want to think about:

Put your router in a central location. You may pay for high-speed Internet access, but if your router is at a dispersed location across your home, you are drastically restricting its reach. Wi-Fi signals do not penetrate thick materials like concrete, metal, or wood well. The more walls your signal must move through, the more strength it loses. Many signal strength and coverage difficulties can be resolved by just moving the router to a different place.

Relevant: Consumers Are Happy With Smart Home Devices but Concerns about Data Privacy Remain

If the coverage in the location where you intend to deploy a device is low, you should think about:

Organize your router by putting it in a single location. You may be paying for high-speed Internet access, but if your router is at a dispersed location across your home, you are drastically restricting its coverage. Wi-Fi signals do not penetrate thick materials such as concrete, metal, or wood well. The more barriers

Your signal has to overcome, the less power it has. Many signal strength and coverage difficulties can be resolved simply by moving the router to a new place.

Are you more exposed to someone obtaining your personal information as you add devices?

Schless: Having more gadgets means having more places to keep some of your sensitive information. Because most attacks on consumer electronics, such as linked home technologies, happen at the network level, the number of devices you have may have little bearing on your real susceptibility level.

However, you must consider the possibility of an assault on the gadget maker. Nowadays, in order to activate a new gadget, you nearly always have to submit some personal information, which implies the manufacturer has access to such information. There’s a chance that your data will be exposed if their business infrastructure is hacked.

When it comes to smart home technology, how can you keep your privacy safe?

Schless: It’s crucial to consider how smart home technology can protect your personal privacy. The basic rule is to allow only the bare minimum of data access and permissions. In order for smart home technology to operate, it normally requires at least a few things, such as location data, microphone access, and associated accounts. You may opt to allow extra home tech capabilities at the price of a bit more personal data depending on your personal risk tolerance and how you want to balance improved utility with decreased privacy.

When anything goes wrong with a smart home device, what do you do?

Schless: If anything doesn’t seem to be working properly, the best thing to do is contact the manufacturer to see if they can assist you. If you suspect the device has been hacked or is being controlled by someone else, turn it off and disconnect it from the power supply.

Reboot, McKinley! Unplugging the device, then unplugging your Wi-Fi router, then powering them back on after around 30 seconds to check whether the issue fixes itself is sometimes the quickest remedy. A simple reboot cures the problem nine times out of ten. If this doesn’t work, the following step is entirely dependent on your scenario and device. If you’re a Pocket Geek Home member, you may use the mobile app to get access to linked home device specialists and self-help information for the most common connected home devices. You may also lookup the issue on Google and see what other people have done to remedy it.

If it doesn’t work, your next step is to contact the manufacturer and see if they can assist you. Smart home gadgets nowadays, on the other hand, communicate with other devices. Many manufacturers give excellent support for their products, but if the problem goes outside their product, they may provide minimal or no assistance.

What’s the best way to keep up with software updates on your devices?

Schless: It’s critically important to make sure that any device you have that’s connected to the Internet is running on the latest software updates. Most devices will notify you when it’s time to update but you should check every couple of weeks. Most updates these days have to do with security, so if you’re not on the latest version then you could be vulnerable to cyberattacks. The most evident example of this is our smartphones and tablets, which seem to always be asking us to update. This isn’t without reason, and you should always be running a security app like Lookout Mobile Security on your mobile devices. This will ensure that you’re protected from malicious network connections, phishing attacks, and advanced device compromise attacks.

McKinley: The majority of smart home gadgets on the market today are controlled via a smartphone app. You should constantly keep such apps up to date by installing the most recent app updates (or setting your phone to automatically update your apps). You should have access to the most recent features once the app is updated. Some devices, such as Sonos, rely on the app to deliver updates to their physical counterparts. In some circumstances, the newest app will notify you that a device update is available when you activate it. When you encounter such alerts, you should always take the time to let the updates to complete so that you don’t have any difficulties with usability.

Article Published in Washington Post:

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Hassan Zaka

I am an expert in accounting and possess diverse experience in technical writing. I have written for various industries on topics such as finance, business, and technology. My writing style is clear and simple, and I utilize infographics and diagrams to make my writing more engaging. I can be a valuable asset to any organization in need of technical writing services.

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