Smart Home Security Tips

Smart Home Security Tips

You’re in IT. You know that you need to use VPNs and virus software when you work remotely. But here are smart home security tips you may not have considered. Even in a digital world, there are offline solutions to keep you and your data safe at home.  

Keep It Separated  

Some work processes sound simple, but are hard to implement. It’s tempting to use your work email to send a friend a link to that funny cat video. Or pay your plumber online through your personal PayPal account. Worse, text your political opinions to your life partner. If you have a company-issued phone and laptop, use it exclusively for work. Only send or receive things on your company devices that you would show to your boss.  

Back It Up Then Lock It Up  

There are many advantages to storing files in the cloud. You save hard drive space, you can work on the same file readily from device to device, and you can securely share files and track revisions. For control-freaks, it can be disconcerting to leave critical documents on someone else’s server.  

I have dozens of children’s book illustrations by artists around the world. I don’t have the time and talent to recreate them. I keep them on DropBox. I have them zipped up and stored on desktop computers. But, to make really, really sure I never lose them, I backed them up on an external hard drive and keep them in a home safe.   

Remember that as technology changes, you may need to back the files up again on the latest and greatest external hard drive. Or, keep the laptop and charger that work with the current hard drive in the safe, too.  

Cheap(er), But Sturdy  

Home safes can get pricey. Fire-proof safes can cost thousands of dollars. Gun safes are far less expensive. You can buy one that is fireproof up to 40 minutes that weighs 450 pounds for under $1,000. After surviving Hurricane Harvey, I bought a Sports Afield safe that will remain waterproof in two feet of water for up to seven days. There are gun safes with configurable interior shelving.  

Zippered pockets on the inside of the door are meant for ammo, but are great for storing jewelry and coins. I keep important paper documents, external hard drives, valuables, and medication in my safe. Depending on your flooring, you may be able to bolt your safe down.   

Paper and Tape Security  

Don’t risk a hacker taking control of your laptop camera. Be sure to keep it covered. You can buy a cover that slides back and forth over the camera. I have one laptop that I never Skype on, so I just covered the camera with black construction paper and tape. I used the six bucks I saved to buy sweet and sour chicken for lunch.  

Get Wired  

Wireless security is easy and fairly inexpensive. SimpliSafe, Ring, and AT&T Digital Life are popular options. In some cases, wired is the way to go. When I looked into wireless doorbells, I became concerned about keeping the device charged.  

The solution? Just buy one with wireless communication that replaces your wired doorbell. You’ll never have to worry about battery drain. (The wired Ring doorbell is $99.) Ring offers motion-activated video recording saved to the cloud for $30 a year. Their “neighbors” feature keeps you up-to-date with suspicious activity in your area.   

Don’t Answer  

Even if you’re expecting company, don’t answer the door until you confirm the visitor’s identity. With the Ring doorbell, you can see and talk to your visitor without moving an inch. On one occasion, a friend had just left when the doorbell rang. I thought she had forgotten something. Rather than open the door, I opened the Ring app on my phone to see who was there. It was not my friend. It is always safer to not assume.  

Watch It  

An Apple Watch is useful in many ways. You can listen to music, answer calls, make Siri commands, and much more. An Apple Watch can also save your life. (There are other smart watches, but I have only used the Apple brand.) If you’re hanging out watching TV and your heart rate spikes, the Heart Rate app will alert you.   

You can contact emergency services by pressing and holding the side button. You can setup emergency contacts who will receive a text with your location. Setup medical IDs so the paramedics know of any serious health issues. Particularly important if you’re diabetic or allergic to penicillin.   

The smartest home security includes technology and good, old-fashioned discipline. Like most things in life, forming good habits usually leads to success. Get into the habit of using work devices only for work, backing up and locking up critical files, and confirming the identities of visitors before you open the door. This will keep you, your hard work, and your family safe.


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