When it comes to home security, two-factor authentication is vital. It’s one of the only safeguards against hacking. Without it, hackers could plausibly get a copy of your video stream or simply disarm your system — a cyber attack just as effective as cutting the phone lines on an old, hardwired system. While we wait for stronger security standards for connected devices, complex, unique passwords and two-factor authentication are our best defenses. Shop for home security systems that offer two-factor authentication (2FA), then turn it on.

Even Strong Passwords Are Weak Alone

Securing your devices and accounts with passwords isn’t enough. To start with, plenty of us choose weak passwords. You know — Fluffy1989, Ashley10. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre found over 23 million uses of 123456.

Entering a single, familiar password to control your home security system is easy, but it’s easy for hackers, too. They can credential-stuff the system with probable guesses, or tap into the spoils of data breaches. If that’s not enough, lots of security devices come out of the box with standard passwords, easily found online. Long story short, a single password just isn’t secure enough.

What Is 2FA?

Two-factor authentication relies on any two out of these three: something you know (e.g., a password), something you have (a phone), something you are (a fingerprint). A familiar example of 2FA is a debit card. You have the card; you know the PIN. When it comes to managing your home security system, 2FA typically means fielding a push notification on a trusted device like your smartphone after you’ve entered your password. Another example: If you enable 2FA on your email, login attempts and account changes are verified via text message.

Prioritize 2FA When Shopping For Home Security

A home security system is robbed of its purpose and power when devices aren’t protected. The same technology designed to keep intruders out can invite them in. But despite the known vulnerability of connected devices, not all home security systems take the necessary protective step of offering 2FA. Even otherwise great systems like SimpliSafe fall short on this point.

Of the home security companies that we’ve reviewed and recommend, the following include 2FA:

Also note that 2FA is not turned on by default. Go to account settings to turn on 2FA. And while you’re doing your digital housekeeping, consider signing up with a password manager to keep your random and unique passwords available — but only to you.

Wrap-Up

Smart home innovation will center on improved security just as much as slick new capabilities. The smart home’s current points of weakness — default passwords, weak passwords, easily hacked devices — are the foci of the industry’s biggest movers and shakers. While we wait for industry-wide overhaul, 2FA offers extra protection. It’s not perfect (hackers can intercept SMS texts, the second point of verification in some 2FA), but it puts up a second line of defense. Just as a home security sign in the lawn shows burglars your house isn’t an easy target, a 2FA-enabled system makes your home look harder to hit than the one next door.