Smart devices could make your home hackable

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CBS Newspath) — Evan King is a smart stuff fanatic. At home, he has a smart deadbolt, smart thermostat, smart fridge and even a device that lets him monitor his dog Chloe and give her treats remotely. King is Chief Technology Officer at Consumer Watchdog. Even though he likes to spoil his dog, he realizes that the same camera that connects him to her can also be used by a criminal to spy on his house.

Smart homes are eminently hackable,” says Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

Balber says you can find online databases of home camera feeds, allowing anyone to spy on an unsuspecting homeowner. And cameras are just one of the more obvious threats. Any gadget that connects to the internet can store and reveal a treasure trove of data. Smart bulbs often store information, like your passwords, in the base of the bulbs.

“If you throw away that light bulb, someone might just pick it up and they have all your information right there in your trash can,” Balber says.

To ensure your smart home is hack-proof, make sure you have strong, different passwords for each account. “One of the easiest ways for hackers to get into your home is to not change the factory-set passwords on your device,” Balber says.

Then, before you get rid of any connected devices, wipe data and reset them, especially your router. Most routers can be erased by pressing the reset button on the back. “If a hacker has access to your Wi-Fi network, they can potentially gain access to your computer, your passwords, your credit card accounts,” Balber says.

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Experts say smart home devices can be useful, but consumers need to be selective about what they connect.

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