Why You Should Set Up an IoT Network

There are a lot of cool smart devices out there. From smart cameras that monitor your front door to tools that monitor your pipes for leaks to smart sprinklers you can control with a phone, Internet of Things (IoT) devices have changed our households for the better.

One piece of advice we always tell people is that it’s a good idea to run a separate Wi-Fi network for your IoT devices. Here’s why it’s a good idea and how to do it.

What Is a Separate IoT Network?

Your Wi-Fi network is set up through your router. What you may not realize is that your router can run multiple networks at once. You may have a regular network and a guest network. But you can set up multiple networks. You likely have dozens of devices on your network, including phones, gaming consoles, computers, TVs, and more. If you’re running IoT devices such as smart cameras, locks, outlets, fridges, thermostats, or other devices, you should put them on a separate network.

Why Make a Separate IoT Network?

The biggest reason is security. Your Wi-Fi network links together every single device in your household. If one device gets compromised with malware, viruses, or accessed by a hacker, the malware (or other problem) can spread to other devices via your Wi-Fi network.

This is a loose analogy but think of your Wi-Fi network as a door. If one family member is sick and touches the doorknob, other family members may pick up the germs and become sick. Malware can spread through a Wi-Fi network the same way. That’s one of the reasons many IT professionals recommend a guest network, since you don’t want to be exposed to someone else’s phone.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with IoT devices. Well, IoT devices are the sickly wimps of the tech world. Your phone gets security updates regularly, as do many of the apps on said phone. And if a security problem is discovered, Apple or Android pushes through a security patch as soon as possible. The same is true for all the big tech companies and their devices such as computers, game consoles, and TVs.

Your IoT devices, on the other hand, don’t get security updates nearly as often. On top of that, some IoT devices don’t use good encryption, rely on older systems at their parent company, and aren’t as good at processing as more powerful devices like computers. They also have fewer eyeballs pointed at them to see if their security is working properly. Many IoT devices are already compromised. For example, a large botnet was recently found to be mainly comprised of internet-enabled cameras. IoT security is just that weak. In fact, when criminals want to hack into a company, the smart way to get into the network might be to bypass smartphones or laptops and hack into printers.

There’s a lot of stuff you can do to avoid bad security outcomes with your IoT devices. For example, you can set them up such that they automatically check for security updates. Or you can do it manually once a quarter—just do it on the same day you check your fire alarms. But the easiest thing is to set up your own IoT network so that if there is a problem, it doesn’t spread to the rest of your devices.

So How Do I Set Up an IoT Network?

All you need to do is access your router settings. Here’s how. From here, you can do all kinds of neat things, one of which is set up additional networks. Create a new network just for your IoT things, make it hidden, put a strong password on it, and keep all your IoT devices on this separate network from now on.