8 tips to help keep you secure while using the Internet of Things

Internet-connected devices were among the top holiday sales this year.

Around the world more and more people are using devices like virtual assistants (such as Amazon Echo and Google Home), smart TVs and connected watches to make their lives easier — and in some cases better.

But this isn’t without risk. In our search for convenience, do we have to sacrifice privacy?

“A common mistake many of us make with internet-connected devices is that we treat each one individually. The Internet of Things is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s why it’s so important to understand and treat each connected device as part of a broader network,” said Steve Platt, global executive vice president, Fraud and Identity, Experian.

“I don’t necessarily think about someone hacking into my new smart thermostat and accessing temperature preferences. But if they can access my thermostat, they can get into my Wi-Fi network. From there they can access my computer or other connected devices where I have a lot more private and valuable information.”

The good news: You can have both convenience and privacy, as long as you know how to secure your devices along the way.

Today we have eight tips to help you protect your identity while enjoying your new gifts.

  • Make sure the products and services you are connecting were purchased from reputable companies.
  • Take a few minutes to review the privacy and data usage policies for each product or service. These privacy policies and data use statements should be clear, easy to read and easy to understand. It’s important to know how your personal data is used, stored or shared and to be comfortable with the terms before using the device.
  • Look for devices that use end-to-end encryption, meaning third parties can’t read or listen to your communications. More and more products are including this terminology right in the product description. If it’s not there, ask.
  • Be careful when turning on features for less secure devices. Remember that a less secure device can open a door into your network, which can lead to access to other connected devices.
  • Change the default password before connecting the device to your network and enable two-factor authentication options, when available, for additional security. For example, you might use a username and password plus something else that only you know.
  • Pay extra attention to your Wi-Fi network and leverage all available security options, including things like router and network passwords, encryption, firewalls and firmware.
  • Be aware of the applications installed on devices, and download applications only from reputable providers. Also, only download apps created by trusted entities.
  • Got kids? Make sure children are supervised when using internet-enabled devices, especially when downloading apps and connecting to other devices.

Internet-connected devices provide endless possibilities, but they rely on technology and collected data to deliver on their promises. By following these tips, you can enjoy the conveniences and stay safe at the same time.

Learn more about Experian fraud and identity solutions at http://www.experian.com/business-services/fraud-management.html.

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