Digital Hygiene 🧼

Checklist: How to protect your family privacy when adding new devices at home

You’re buying all of these smart devices for yourself and your kids. But is your family’s privacy protected and your data safe from hackers? Here’s how to protect your family privacy when connecting new devices to your home network. 

One of the defining features of the holiday season is shiny new technology. But the onus is on us parents to set up these devices in a way that protects our family privacy and keeps data away from hackers.

Here’s what you need to know to connect new smart devices to your home network safely and securely.

1. Only buy devices from trusted brands

The price may be appealing – but have you ever heard of that brand? Reputation matters when it comes to keeping your home secure. And don’t just look at user reviews, which can be purchased or otherwise inflated; before purchasing, review well-known websites to make sure that the brand is reputable.

2. Use unique passwords for new accounts 

As you register your device online, use a password manager to generate unique passwords and keep you organized. A password manager keeps you organize and even allows you to share passwords with your family. That way you can create strong passwords to protect everyone’s online accounts and then share with each family member.

3. Change the pre-set factory passwords

Did you know that many smart devices have the same password? And most people don’t change it! It’s absolutely critical that you change factory passwords to secure passwords that are unique and hard to guess.

4. Put smart devices on a virtual network

Protect your primary devices from hackers by isolating smart devices on a Virtual Network (or VLAN). These networks can be set up via any new router. A VLAN is separate from your main network, which protects your most sensitive devices (like your work computer) from smart devices that have weaker security controls.

5. Limit permissions on any apps that control your smart devices

Limit permissions on any app that you download to manage your smart devices. Otherwise, you may unnecessarily expose personal data. Unfortunately, many of these controllers have more permissive privacy settings and can reveal more about your family than you may like.

6. Turn on automatic updates

Just like your smartphone, your smart devices need periodic updates to protect against the latest vulnerabilities. Set these to automatic! It’s easy and keeps your devices running the latest security software.

7. Review your family privacy settings

Each new device has its own privacy policy and settings. Take time to review and adjust privacy settings — especially for devices used by under-18s. Restrict permissions and only allow access that is absolutely critical to the proper functioning of the device.

8. Set up a voice PIN

Most voice assistants allow you to create a PIN to prevent unauthorized shopping or snooping. The same goes for purchasing apps on digital platforms via smart TVs. All it takes is for one family member to download a suspicious app to expose your entire family is not work to hackers!

9. Enable 2FA

Two-factor authentication adds an extra security layer to prevent unauthorized access. Many of the best password management apps have this functionality built-in, so you can use the same company for both your password management and your extra layer of security.

10. Disable features you don’t need

Devices may offer features you don’t need, some of which are enabled by default. Check your settings! If you’re not using a particular feature, it’s safer to just turn it off. You never know when a future vulnerability will pop up.

By following these tips, you’ll enjoy your new connected devices — without having to worry about hackers snooping and stealing your data!