How to Secure Your New Smart Home When You Move In
Twenty years ago buying a new home meant picking up the keys on moving day, packing up your old house, and moving into a new one. The only major security concern you had was making sure the old owner gave you all the keys – if you didn’t trust them then changing the lock was probably a good idea. Once that was done you didn’t have to worry about them gaining unauthorized access to your home.
These days things are a little more complicated. The rapid integration of technology into our homes in the form of smart home gadgets and appliances is now fairly common. This may be making our lives easier and more convenient, but it also raises a whole new set of security concerns for anyone buying a home. When making your next move you might want to put together a checklist to go over with the old owner and here are some things to keep in mind.
Passwords and Factory Resets
Moving into a new home is exciting – especially if it’s a major upgrade from your old one. If you’re moving into a home that’s less than ten years old there’s a good chance it’s going to come with some type of smart home tech already installed. Perhaps it has a Nest thermostat or an August Smart Lock. If your new home has any of these types of smart devices you need to make sure the passwords are reset and it’s probably a good idea to restore it to factory default settings once you move in.
You might think doing these things will make you secure, but not necessarily. Believe it or not, there have been plenty of situations in which previous owners were still able to access the smart home appliance in their old homes even after a factory reset and the passwords were changed. You also need to make sure that the old owners remove any appliances in your new home from their devices. The only other alternative is to contact each device's manufacturer and that’s likely to be a bit of a painful process. It’s best to sort everything out with the old owners before you move in.
From Doorbell Cameras to Smart Locks
The list of devices in your new home that could be smart device enabled is pretty extensive and that’s why it’s probably a good idea to make a checklist with your Realtor. Ask about smart video doorbell cameras, smart locks, security cameras, smart light bulbs, smart thermostats, and find out if any of the appliances are smart enabled as well.
If part of your deal with the previous owner includes taking over an existing smart hub that controls all of these connected devices you really need to be careful. If the last owner can still access that hub they can control any device in your home. It might be better to purchase your own hub if you’re not completely confident that they have removed all access to the hub from their devices.
Get Your New Home Behind a Firewall
Perhaps the best way to protect your smart home from previous owners gaining access to your devices is to place everything behind your own home network firewall. That way even if they do still have access to appliances in your smart home they won’t be able to get past the firewall. An even better option is a network-wide Virtual Private Network. A VPN hides your network from view on the net and will make it virtually impossible for anyone, including previous owners of your home, to gain access to any of your smart devices. The best VPN’s do usually require a monthly service subscription, but the cost isn’t normally that extreme and is well worth it for the extra peace of mind.
Don’t Rely on the Manufacturers
It may seem like a pain to have to take the steps we’ve discussed above, but they’re necessary. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of smart devices and appliances haven’t really given a lot of thought to the transfer of smart technology to new owners. It’s up to the consumer and new homeowners to protect themselves.
This is a guest post is by Joseph Mack from smarthomeSAGE, a blog that analyzes the impact that smart home technology has on home life.