Smart Home

Are your smart bulbs actually safe?

Here's how to protect yourself against hackers.

Smart Bulb Credit: Sergeyryzhov/Getty Images

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Smart bulbs come with a lot of perks, like turning lights on and off via your phone and even setting a lighting schedule for when you're out of town. But they may also come with a security risk, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that like most smart devices, smart light bulbs can be hacked—which in turn can lead to your personal information being stolen. Below is everything you need to know about how to use (and choose) your smart bulbs so you and your home stay safe.

Why smart bulbs can be a security risk

Smart Bulb
Credit: Getty Images

Not all smart bulbs are created equal.

According to the study, because your smart bulbs are connected to your home's Wi-Fi network, hackers can use the bulbs to infiltrate your network and steal personal information. "Smart bulbs are no safer or less safe than any other smart device you may own," our smart home editor, Sarah Kovac, explains.

And smart bulbs are even more of a risk if they're connected to other devices (as opposed to a smart home hub). Additionally, if you're using bulbs that are infrared-enabled, researchers explain that hackers can use that invisible wave spectrum—a.k.a. the light that you can't even see—to access your digital network along with any data stored on your laptop or computer.

How to use smart bulbs safely

First things first: Choose a strong password. "Smart bulbs connect to an app on your phone, and if you don’t set a good password when you create your account within the app, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to hacking," Sarah cautions. "The best thing that you can do is make sure that you have a solid password (one that you don’t use elsewhere)."

The study's researchers also recommend connecting your smart bulbs to a smart home hub. By doing so, your bulbs will communicate to your other devices via the hub rather than directly via your Wi-Fi network, making your home less vulnerable to hackers.

How to choose the best smart light bulb

Philips
Credit: Philips

We love the color-changing Philips Hue.

There are so many smart bulbs out there with so many different features. So which one is the best? Of all the smart light bulbs we've tested, we found the Philips Hue to be number one in every category. "Philip bulbs do require a hub, but they are reliable and come in many different color options and bulb styles," Sarah, who uses the bulbs in her own home, explains. Bonus: The Philips Hue also has an incredibly long lifespan (up to 25,000 hours!) and is compatible with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant

Get the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit from Amazon for $168.97

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