Guidance

From new phones, gaming consoles, smart devices and speakers, there are many tech items around our homes that now connect to the internet.

No matter what the device, these can be potentially vulnerable and could leave your data and privacy at risk. It is important to make sure that you take steps to secure these items.

The National Cyber Security Centre and DCMS are encouraging manufacturers to make (and keep) their products secure, and have developed a code of practice to help keep consumers safe.

Here are some tips to ensure your new gadgets are secure and ready to use.

Setting up your device

Each device should come with manufacture’s documentation for helping you set up your new device. This may be in the form of a printed manual or a ‘getting started’ guide. There is usually a support area set up on the manufacture’s website or within the app itself which can help answer frequently asked questions for set up.

Some devices, you can simply ‘plug in and play’ and other may require you to create accounts or be connected to the internet. Check your instructions for details.

NCSC have published specific guidance on securing smart cameras and baby monitors from cyber attacks.

Check the default settings and passwords

Some devices are set up with default passwords that can be weak and easily guessed such as ‘admin’ or ‘0000’ making them vulnerable to attack.

You can make it harder for cyber criminals to guess your password by changing these to something more secure. The NCSC suggest making your password strong, longer and more memorable by combining three random words that you can remember.  

Double your protection with 2FA

Creating strong passwords is a good first step to securing your device. You can add an extra layer of security by turning on two factor authentication (2FA) on your devices and accounts.

Two factor authentication protects you by checking it’s really you logging in. Along with your password, you will have to provide an additional piece of information authorise login. This might be a code that is sent to your phone or through an authenticator app.  

If your device offers 2FA, make sure to turn it on.

Keep your devices updated

As with your computers and smartphones, installing software updates promptly can help keep your devices secure. Companies fix weaknesses in your apps and devices by releasing updates which contain these security improvements. If available, you can switch on the option to install automatic updates. This will mean you do not have to remember each time. If your device requires to be updated manually, make sure to set aside time to do this to help keep your device secure.

Selling or giving your device to someone

The NCSC has provided guidance should you decide to sell, or give your device to someone else. Many of our devices contain personal data so you want to make sure that this is erased before you trade it in or give to someone else to use. You can perform a factory reset, which will return the device to its original settings and wipe any personal data. Check your manufacturer’s website if you need to find out how to perform a reset.

If something goes wrong

If you are having issues with a device, updating your device can help to install the latest security fixes.

If you become aware of an incident that’s been reported and you think your device is affected you can visit the company’s support or help pages for information on how to recover your account.

If someone has malicious control / access of a device in your home, the safest option is to perform a factory reset of your device. You can restore your backed-up data from the last known good backup.

The NCSC provide advice for recovering hacked accounts.

The UK Government has recently set out a new Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (PSTI) with the aim to protect customers from security vulnerabilities stemming from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. SBRC has produced insightful blog on everything you need to know in relation to the UK IoT cyber security bill.

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