It’s possible to use your smart phone – and sometimes just your voice – to control everything from your TV to your lights, your thermostat and shades, even your car or medical device. But how safe are your connected devices? Experts say tread carefully, but don’t freak out.

Research firm Gartner expects there to be 8.4 billion connected “things” in use in 2017; by 2020, this number could reach 20.4 billion. For businesses, smart electric meters and commercial security cameras are expected to be the most popular “internet of things” products.

Such gadgets are convenient, but they can present easy targets for hackers. There’s a growing call for regulation to secure connected devices, but it’s unclear whether this will happen. According to Homeland Security, the growing dependency on network-connected technologies is outpacing the means to secure them.

Forrester Research analyst Josh Zelonis suggests that consumers can’t wait for the government to fix things. Instead, he said, people have to demand that manufacturers are accountable for the security of their products and that they support the products throughout the product’s lifetime, not just when it’s sold.

Easier said than done.

Many people don’t realize they have to secure connected devices with passwords like they do with computers. If a device comes with a default password, it needs changing the moment you hook it up. Same with Wi-Fi.

Cheaper devices from no-name companies also pose more of a security risk. Smaller companies don’t have the resources (or willingness) of the large companies, such as Apple, Samsung, and Amazon, to continuously fill holes in security.

In short, don’t buy from smaller vendors; don’t buy devices that don’t encrypt data everywhere; change the password if you can.

>> Read more by Associated Press, Plant, March 9, 2017

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