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When I use home automation, is my information secure?

Some home automation devices employ best security practices, such as bank-level encryption, while others lack even the basic ability to change a default password. Your ultimate security will depend on which devices you use and how you use them.

Because of the potential security risks, many consumers refrain from investing in smart home technology. They worry about compromised data or hacked smart locks. The concern has been a prominent one for several years and will continue to influence smart home applications in upcoming years.

Luckily, you can still take steps to better safeguard your home’s digital security—even with smart home devices. Follow these five steps to keep your home and loved ones safe.

person using cellphone at home
  1. Research the Product: Purchase products from manufacturers who employ the latest security practices. Look for encryption standards and ask about basic security settings. Also find out whether the smart home provider offers automatic updates. If you can’t change the password and username or need to manually install patches and updates, you may want to forego one brand’s smart home device for another.
  2. Ask about Data Practices: Some smart home devices collect far more data than they should. Make sure the products you purchase only gather the data needed to operate within the home and with other gadgets. It’s also smart to find out how user data is stored, processed, and used.
  3. Be Cautious with Third-Party Applications: Some devices work through their companion apps alone, while others allow third-party developers to build their own apps. Third-party apps can have problematic loopholes, so ensure the devices you use regulate those secondary applications.
  4. Think Networks, Not Devices: The weakest link in home automation often is the home network. Double- and triple-guard it with passcodes, guest access networks, firewalls, and parental controls. Some homeowners even set up a dedicated network for smart devices, which you can do with many newer modems and routers.
  5. Stay Positive: Manufacturers and vendors know about the security flaws and constantly work with white hackers to find them. They want to keep your home safe because it reflects well upon them. The motive may be self-centered, but it works in your favor.
Don’t be afraid to invest in the smart home—just be aware.

Some home automation devices may be more vulnerable than others, so look for products with less vulnerability. Z-Wave and Thread devices, for example, tend to be more secure since they employ a “secure by design” mindset.

Ready to invest in building your own smart home? Check out your options on our resources page.