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Got a smart bulb, thermostat, or doorbell camera? How not to get hacked

"One of the easiest ways for hackers to get into your home is if you don't change the factory set passwords on your device."
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LOS ANGELES — Evan King is a smart-stuff fanatic. In his home, he has a smart deadbolt, smart thermostat, smart fridge, and even a device that allows him to watch his dog Chloe and give her treats remotely. King is chief technology officer at Consumer Watchdog. As much as he loves spoiling his dog, he realizes the same camera that connects him to her may also be used by a criminal to spy on his home.

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

Balber says you can find databases online of home camera feeds, allowing anyone to spy on an unsuspecting homeowner.

And cameras are only 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 that light bulb out, someone could just pick it up and they've got all your information right there, in your trash can," Balber says.

To ensure your smart home is hackproof make sure to have strong passwords, a different one for every account. "One of the easiest ways for hackers to get into your home is if you don't change the factory set passwords on your device," Balber says.

Next, before getting rid of any connected device, clear out the data and reset it, especially your router. Most routers can be wiped by pushing the reset button on the back. "If a hacker has access to your Wi-Fi network, they might potentially have access to your computer, your passwords, your credit card accounts," Balber says.

Experts say smart home devices can be helpful, but consumers should be selective about what they connect.

Correspondent: Juan Fernandez  Producer: Chris Stein


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