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a virtual private network to use over a public connection, Paget says. He mentions Witopia’s VPN service as one option.
4. Change your connected device’s factory default login credentials. “Don’t just plug in your new connected product,” Palfy says. That’s because many devices arrive installed with generic login information that can be found through a Web search.
Vandebroek says you should replace the device’s default login info with a strong administrator password and unique username, if possible. Palfy also recommends using two-factor authentication when accessing the account you use to manage the device. That means in addition to entering a username and password to access the account, you would also be asked to enter a second piece of identifying information, such as a code sent to your smartphone via text message.
Bottom line: slow down and take your time with the initial setup of the device, making sure you read each step of the instructions and choose the strongest security options possible, Vandebroek says.
“Most of the time this is not the default setting,” she says. People often “rush through the setup to start using the device, and then never go back to change the factory default settings. This is not only important for security but also for privacy.”
For example, you might want to configure the device so it doesn’t track your usage, or turn off the always-listening setting of voice-controlled products like the Amazon Echo.
5. Maintain the latest version of the device’s software. “Regularly check for security patches and firmware updates for your devices,” Palfy says. Not all devices’ software can be updated post-purchase, Vandebroek says, but be sure to install updates if possible.
6. Keep device access to a minimum. “Ensure only trusted users have access to your device,” Palfy says. (Added benefit: This is a built-in excuse to hog your new toy.)
7. Just because you can connect it to the Internet doesn’t mean you must. Paget recommends manually controlling each device’s Internet connection. That means: turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections when you aren’t using them, always have the device set to “Ask to Join Networks,” and don’t allow the device to “remember” wireless networks and automatically connect, he says.
Perhaps some Internet-enabled gadgets should simply be left offline. “Take inventory of the connected things around your home and think it through which ones need to be connected and which ones may not,” Palfy says. “For example, if you never use the ‘smart’ functions of your TV, turn off the Wi-Fi to limit potential entry points.”