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FOUR STEPS TO BUILDING A SMART HOME By Sean Dinsmore S mart homes are a big deal these days. And while smart home devices are incredibly appealing to buyers, they can also be particularly susceptible to security breaches. Here’s what you need to know about this technology so you are protected. What Are Smart Homes, and Why Are They So Great? Smart homes come equipped with electronic devices that are connected to a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network, meaning you can automate them and control them remotely. Think lightbulbs you can program to always turn on at a certain time or security cameras you can tap into from your phone. Smart home devices make everything a little more convenient: Brewing your coffee before you wake up, or letting you screen visitors through your door- bell camera without getting up off the couch. They can even reduce monthly energy costs by optimizing lighting or water temperatures based on usage. What Are the Risks? Smart homes take all these different devices—your television, your microwave, your voice-command system—and connect them to each other through a smart hub (either a physical box in your house, or an Internet-connected app you use to program your devices). That may be convenient, but it is also easier for someone to hack into your hub and from there, access everything. Plus, smart hubs don’t typically have the best built-in security protocols. Many have default passwords that are easy to guess, or they use weak encryption that fails to protect personal information. So if you ignore your smart home security, you could wind up in a situation in which someone hacks into your smart hub, gains remote access to your smart locks and breaks into your house while you’re away; locking the door behind them so no one’s the wiser. Thankfully, people are beginning to take smart home security much more seriously than when these devices fi rst appeared on the market. California’s new law, SB 327, requires smart device manufacturers selling products in California to design their connected gadgets with security features that prevent breaches or tampering. But it’s always a good idea to take precautions. Top Producing Team Gilroy Intero, 2015-2018 Sean Dinsmore, Realtor Intero Real Estate Services 408.710.2855 DRE #01966405 How to Keep Smart Home Devices Secure 1. Change the default passwords. Smart home devices often come with default passwords (like “1234”) that hackers can easily guess. The very fi rst thing you should do after taking the device out of the box is create a unique, strong password for it. Password management tools like LastPass can help you create strong passwords and keep track of them across multiple devices. Because as tempting as it is to use the same password for everything, it’s not worth the risk. 2. Keep smart home software updated. You know how your computer has regular security updates? So do your smart home devices. Make sure they stay updated with the latest software patches. 3. Disable features you don’t need. Do you absolutely have to have remote access to each of your smart home devices? If you can go without, switch that feature off where applicable, along with any other features you don’t plan to use. Also be sure to review each device’s security settings and adjust any that are overly permissive. 4. Secure the wireless router. Secure the home’s wireless network with a strong password and use WPA2 encryption instead of WEP. Also give your wireless router an obscure name that makes it harder for hackers to glean information they could use in a social engineering attack. It’s easy to understand why home buyers are so keen on smart home devices, but it’s critical to understand their risks. Should you need any help or advice with your smart home needs, we are happy to help! 12 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN WINTER 2020