Could hackers be spying on you through your baby monitors? And is your Alexa logging every conversation you have? As the National Cyber Security Centre warns that home baby monitors and smart cameras could be accessed by cybercriminals - Alice Beer is here with the advice you need to shut them out.
The average UK home now has around 10 internet-enabled devices, equating to more than 286 million across the UK. They are all capable of communicating with or being accessed remotely by other devices but if you don't take responsibility for making sure these devices are secure you could be leaving your home and your family vulnerable.
Who can get into your devices and what information can they get?
Your exposure ranges from the amount of private and personal information you allow the companies that make and run these devices to access. If you don't make sure you have enabled every layer of security setting then you can make yourself vulnerable.
'Ring' has a range of security devices that are used to protect your home. They can be a deterrent not just against burglars but also to make delivery drivers a little more careful. However, these devices can also be hacked.
To keep your Ring camera safe, change the default password, which is often an obvious word such as "admin" or "00000" to a unique one. Also, set up two-factor authentication on your account.
A smart TV is a highly-evolved device that gives a user a lot of options to enjoy streaming, browsing, and gaming but there may also be risks you want to consider before deciding to bring one into your living room. An internet-connected, voice-enabled TV has the capability to track what you are searching and watching. Smart TV webcams could be hacked for spying, or malware can move from device to device through your router.
Most smart TVs come with the option for you to turn off such tracking, but it may not be the default setting. Check the fine print before turning on or turning off features on your smart TV. Consider avoiding TVs with built-in webcams however if you already have a TV with a webcam, go for the low-tech, but effective way of blocking it: a sticky note covering the lens, except for when you're using it.
Baby monitors can now be accessed from your phone or tablet - but with this comes security risks. Recently, a video from the US showed footage from a baby monitor which had been hacked. In the video, the hacker speaks to the young girl saying he's Santa Claus and encourages her to destroy her bedroom.
To keep your baby monitor safe, start with the password - find a strong and different password to use. Next, update your camera and app settings regularly. Look at what you are sharing and switch remote access off when you aren't using it.
In the past, security testing found that the Hive Active Heating thermostat (a device that lets you control your heating remotely) was sending unencrypted data across the network which raised concerns about what criminals could potentially do with that data.
To keep your Hive thermostat safe, reset your router. Your router is the gateway to all of your devices. Then, rename it so that its brand and model are not easily identified.
Amazon Echo (Alexa)
A digital assistant is a useful home device, with a microphone that can listen to and answer your vocal commands. But hackers are getting easy access to the things you say, like your passwords, holidays and more. There are also concerns about Amazon recording your conversations.
To keep your Alexa device safe, improve the privacy through the device's settings. Keep your conversations private - if you don't want Amazon to keep your conversations - go into your account settings and delete them.
Smart or connected toys all have some degree of connectivity allowing you and your child to interact with the toy via a smart device. However, this shouldn't come at the cost of privacy and safety.
Research them before you buy them or when you are given them to see if there are any hacking reports or stories online.