Protecting your Home Gadgets from Hacking

Imagine your coffee maker switching on by itself, staying on for hours, overheating and becoming a fire hazard. That’s not science fiction. As more and more appliances incorporate WIFI, the opportunities for hackers to play havoc with your home gadgets increase.

How do you prevent that from happening?

Here are some safety tips:

• If your gadget uses a password to access the settings, change that password frequently. Ideally, change it once every 3 months.
• Some gadgets, such as alarm systems, come with their own connection to the internet. Learn how to turn that connection off if it becomes necessary to do so.
• Don’t leave an internet-connected appliance or other gadget on constantly unless it’s necessary. For example, you don’t need your home speaker system connected to your digital music providers all the time.
• Baby monitors with video are a common target for hackers. Use a password unique to that device and change it often. Never leave the monitor on when not in use.
• Never share passwords with anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. Most home WIFI systems have a “guest” feature with a separate password and limited access. Use it.

In this age of internet connectivity — from coffee makers to stereos and even washing machines — it’s smart to play it safe. Know what’s connected and protect yourself.