Your home technology also needs a good spring cleaning

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Many Michiganders will begin spring cleaning in the next few weeks, but this ritual doesn’t have to just include decluttering your closets and garage. This also is a good time of year to take inventory of the connected devices in your home.

From the obvious laptops, tablets and smartphones to the more overlooked smart thermostats, security cameras and voice assistants, knowing what’s connected to your home Wi-Fi is the first step to ensuring each device has the latest firmware and helping identify any unknown connected gadgets that may pose a cyberthreat.

Cyberattack threats are up by as much as 12% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Comcast’s xFi Advanced Security Platform. Since last January, Comcast’s xFi Advanced Security has blocked nearly 6 billion cybersecurity threats, representing an average of about 104 per home, per month.

Preventing cyberattacks may sound like a daunting task, but you can reduce your chances of a threat and help protect your home network and the devices connected to it by employing a few simple habits.

Use multifactor authentication

If available, always enable multifactor authentication, which allows websites or services to confirm your identity using a combination of two or three distinct factors — typically something you know (a password or challenge question), something you have (a unique, time-sensitive code sent to your mobile phone) or something you are (a fingerprint or facial recognition on your phone). While it adds an extra step to logging in, it’s a simple and easy way to protect your accounts and information.

Have network protection…always

Check with your internet provider because there may be free or “value add” applications available to you. These applications provide a proactive barrier between a connected home and potential cyberattacks on the devices in the home.

Get the latest firmware updates for every connected device

When was the last time you did a firmware update on your smart thermostat, printer, webcam or voice assistant? Those updates often add new security features or patch holes, so they are critical to maintaining security. If it’s an option, enable “auto updates” whenever you configure a new device to ensure they are always up-to-date and protected.

Be aware of all the devices on your home network

No screen can mean more vulnerability. Printers, thermostats, door locks, security cameras, and washers and dryers are increasingly equipped with network connectivity. But without a detailed interface, many consumers may not think there is a chance of an outside threat. Cybercriminals target them because devices without screens can be more easily hacked without the consumer even knowing it. In fact, more than 4 in 5 consumers would not be 100% confident they’d know if one of their nonscreen devices had been hacked. Pause connectivity to any unknown device until you can determine whether it’s safe.

Connected homes certainly have changed how we live, work and play. Feel confident that you can do it securely by taking these steps and adding multiple layers of security to protect your connected home.

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