How to protect your privacy when using smart home tech

Followers of our blog will know that we love to get involved with the latest technology, especially when it comes to gadgets for our home. From smart meters to personal assistants, they all work so well for streamlining our indoor lives, meaning we can make the most of our downtime between work.

However, there are precautions that should be considered to protect your privacy when using any service that requires personal data to set up and operate.

Real Homes, the source of ideas, advice and inspiration for styling your home, has pointed out that smart assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa record what you say after you wake them up and keep recordings on their server until you delete them. It suggests the following tips to help you protect your privacy:

You can put the devices on mute so they aren’t recording your voice 

  • You can wipe recordings by going to the apps and My Account tabs, and then tapping on the My Activity tab, where it will list how to delete manually and automatically. 
  • Full instructions can be found online for each device.
protect your privacy
How to protect your privacy when using smart home tech

Smart assistants also store your voice for development purposes  

  • Amazon has a privacy dashboard where you can tell the company not to use your voice recordings in the future.  
  • Click on ‘manage how your data improves Alexa’ and turn the toggles off.
  • Google is the only voice assistant that currently doesn’t store your voice forever.  
  • To turn off voice storage, go to Google’s Activity Controls and turn off ‘voice and audio activity’ and then click pause.

Consider your WiFi router as the main entrance to your home

  • It connects your smart gadgets to the outside world. Like any front door, it needs securing with locks and keys.  
  • In the router’s case, it needs a strong password that is long and complicated and won’t give away any personal identification.   
  • Use the most secure encryption method your router permits such as WPA2

Never write down your passwords  

  • Use Keychain (for Windows users) or Credential Manager (for Mac users) to store passwords in an encrypted manner.          
  • Even if you’ve chosen an unusual password that you can remember it is definitely worth changing your password on a regular basis to ward off the hackers and over-zealous neighbours.
  • Ensure your router’s on-board software – or firmware – is constantly up to date by checking on its web page for automatic software updates and ensuring they have been completed.
protect your privacy
How to protect your privacy when using smart home tech

Update your gadgets regularly 

  • Check their apps for new installations or ask your personal assistants if they have any updates pending.
  • Review each of your smart home gadgets’ security settings and apply a different password to every device.

Personalise your security settings

  • The more you can personalise your security settings with face recognition, fingerprint ID, voice activation the better, as it will prevent other people from accessing your personal information.

Don’t use unsecured devices to access your secured smart home tech  

  • Using a computer without antivirus software installed or accessing a public computer makes your connected home vulnerable to malware.
  • Only buy smart home tech from reputable brands that you know and trust.
  • Read online reviews and talk to your friends and colleagues about their positive experiences.  
  • If you decide to plump for an unknown brand you risk the manufacturer going out of business and the product not being supported correctly, which includes your data being protected.

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