As smart technology becomes more and more relevant, the issue of cybersecurity increases in pertinence as well. If you plan on picking up smart home (Internet of Things) gifts for your family and friends this year, NextAdvisor offers a few security tips to keep in mind:
Firstly, the difference between “always on” items and selectively on appliances is huge, as smart home “always on” items pose a much more significant security risk than a device that can be disabled with the press of a button. Things like smart lights, thermostats, speakers, and so on—while popular—are best left to your recipient’s discretion.
This is because “always on” (also known as “Internet of Things”, or IoT) devices are often ill-suited to the degree of connectivity that they must sustain. Due to security shortcuts or weak coding, it’s relatively easy for an attacker to use your Internet-connected refrigerator or thermostat to take down your whole network. As such, traditional devices that can be enabled and disabled at will have a distinct security edge in this area.
When in doubt, go the gift card route; that way, your intended recipient will be able to purchase whatever smart item they want without you having to worry about compromising their safety.
If you do decide to buy Internet of Things gifts this year, it’s important to invest in strong, secure options. The easiest way to ensure that the device that you’re buying is sufficient is by looking at the manufacturer: was the device produced by Google, Intel, Apple, or another household tech name, or are you considering a company that you’ve never heard of?
A less security-based issue lies in the quality of the products, as third-party devices tend to fail faster and achieve less support than ones from large tech companies. When in doubt, go with the devil you know.
The other main thing to keep in mind is the face security of the item itself.
If the IoT item has a password and regular update support, it’s a much more secure item than any device lacking either of those features (to say nothing of both). Make sure that you know the answers to these questions before investing in any IoT device this holiday season, or just avoid them altogether.