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How to keep your smart home secure

By  AAMI

You’re hosting a dinner party to show off your newly connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Midway through making the cannelloni — right as you’re stuffing the cheese and spinach into the pasta tubes — the doorbell rings.

Once, you would have had to put down the spoon, wash your hands, and run to let your friends in. But now you just use voice control to buzz your guests in, turn on some atmospheric music, and have the next recipe step read out to you. All without missing a beat in your dinner prep!

It sounds efficient. But smart homes can come with additional risks. If cybercriminals manage to hack into your devices, your privacy and data is at stake. Spies could work out when you are and aren’t home. Your personal data and your important passwords could even get in the wrong hands.

That doesn’t mean you can’t set up a secure smart home. So, here’s a few tips that could help.

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Consider the risks of smart devices

Weigh up the pros and cons of installing smart devices in your home.

For example, you could turn on your heater via an app five minutes before you get home, so that the house is nice and toasty as soon as you walk in. Or, you can use your phone to switch off lights and appliances that were accidentally left on, saving electricity costs.  

But smart devices can cost a pretty penny, even before the price of installation, and their replacement or repair (technology can become outdated quickly!).

It’s also worth checking whether your smart devices are covered under your Home and Contents Insurance, or can be insured with Portable Valuables cover, depending on the home and contents insurance policy you may have.  It may be something you consider before you spend a heap of money on high-tech devices for them not to be covered in an event like theft or a fire.   

If you’re installing new smart devices, you may also want to think about checking your home and contents insurance policy, and if appropriate, consider updating your contents sum insured. AAMI has a handy Contents Calculator that can help with estimating the value of your belongings.

One unsecure device could compromise your whole system. So only install trusted devices and seek advice on how to do so securely. Do a bit of internet research, speak to the tech representative at the store, or ask friends for their smart device reviews.

Consider insuring your devices and your home

As well as protecting your personal privacy and safety, taking steps to keep your smart home technology secure is wise.

Say you use your smartphone to monitor security cameras at your house or turn on lights and sound when you’re away. Doing these things could be helping to prevent a theft by putting off onlookers who think you’re home. Not only does avoiding a claim save you from inconvenience, it could help prevent additional fees being added to your premium.

To find out how much an AAMI Home and Contents Insurance policy would cost you, get a quote easily online.

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Is your wi-fi network secure?

Your internet modem router is like the brain of your connected home, sending signals out to all the body parts. So, if it has a flimsy password, or can be easily hacked, all of your IoT devices are compromised. Try these tips to help secure your router.

Change up the password.

And no, password, 1234, or your family name and birthday won’t cut it. Good passwords contain a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, and avoid common phrases. Also, don’t use the same password for everything!

It can be frustrating to remember all these tricky passwords, so write them all down somewhere safe and secure, or try a password manager. It’s worth it for the extra layer of security.

Also change the username! The company provided username could make it easier to give away the make or model — info that hackers might find handy.

Set up a guest network for visitors to your home.

“Hey, what’s the wi-fi password?” is an all too common question when you welcome guests into your home.

As much as you trust our friends and family, sharing your wi-fi password compromises your home security. If someone logs in to your primary network with a device that is housing malware or a virus, it could spread to your other devices. So, set up a guest network for when your internet-addicted friends call in.

Use two-factor authentication

If your smart device apps offer two-factor authentication, use it! That’s where you can get a code sent to your phone or email and use that, as well as the device’s password, to sign in. It’s a little bit more effort, but it may be worth it for greater peace of mind.  

Keep your devices updated

Don’t put off updating your software (no matter how tempting the ‘remind me tomorrow’ button might be). They could include important security fixes.

Always put a pin on your phone

Keep a strong passcode on your phone in case it gets lost or stolen (this also goes for any other tablets or smart devices you use). Also make sure to keep the lock screen timer on low. If it’s set to five minutes, that gives a thief plenty of time to get in and search around. Go for the 30 second option!

Also add strong passwords to cloud or other online storage platforms. 

Replace outdated devices

If newer versions of your IoT devices offer better security or protection, they may be worth purchasing.

If your existing router doesn't offer you good security features, think about replacing it with one that does or speak to a professional.

Monitor your network

Make sure to use a trusted virus protection software. This AAMI Informed blog has some great tips for being security savvy.  

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as AAMI. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.