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How can I keep all my smart devices secure?

Let's discuss the importance of securing not just phones and laptops, but also smart devices like light bulbs and switches. These devices can be vulnerable to hacking if not updated regularly. To protect your home network, choose reputable brands that provide security updates and avoid the cheapest options.

To learn more about how you can keep yourself safe while on the Internet, visit: internet-safety.khanacademy.org.
Created by Sal Khan.

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Video transcript

- So Mark, so far we've talked a lot about device security and when we talk about devices at least in my mind, I imagine my phone, I imagine my laptop, a tablet, maybe a smart watch, but there's actually a much broader universe of devices, smart devices, you know, smart light bulbs, things we might put on things so that we don't lose them. How does that play into this whole notion of device security? Should we just, you know, not worry about the smart light bulb or whatever else we might buy? Or should that also be part of the picture? - I worry about smart devices a little bit and the reason is that we've now got, I just scratched myself in shot, comparable power to what was on the original space shuttle, inside that light bulb, inside that wall switch. Now, for the most part, they're not doing that much. They don't have access usually to your data. You know, if it has a camera or something, that's another issue. But literally for a light bulb, the biggest concern is that it has access to your home network. It's on that same wifi with your laptop and your phone and your tablet, and they may be sharing sensitive information. So for that reason, what I tend to do is to not buy the absolute cheapest light bulb I can find, because those companies, with their very thin profit margins often don't update that you know, tiny little computer that's inside the light bulb, so it may have vulnerabilities, it may have weaknesses that hackers can exploit. There are actually a few examples of that happening. So in this case, what happened is somebody found a vulnerability affecting millions and millions of light bulbs and switches and smart toasters and what have you, and they were able to get them all to wake up at the same time and to hit one particular website until that website was overwhelmed and couldn't keep up with the traffic. That's called a denial of service attack. And so by doing that, they were able to use lots of innocent people's smart light bulbs and smart toasters to do some real damage. So scary, scary crimes not affecting the person in the house, but affecting, you know, some victim down the road. Again, the best solution to this is getting devices that are updated and patched, that do receive those same security updates that you get on your phone or your laptop. And most of the reputable brands, you know, certainly the Google Nest devices, but most of the reputable brands will have those security updates, so you'll be in a pretty good place there.