Home Going Smart: Don’t Forget About Security

Every device around us is getting smarter. We have smartphones, smart TVs, smart thermostats, smart gaming consoles, smart cameras, and even smart locks. The prefix means these devices are connected to the internet, and they make your life easier. You can turn your AC on, open the garage door, and check your cameras with a tap.

All of this convenience comes with a price – security.

Whenever you add a new smart device into the mix, it makes your home more vulnerable. You need a proper cybersecurity defense plan. If not, hackers will exploit any opportunity to break in.

In What Way Is Your Smart Home Vulnerable?

A home must be private. Whenever we leave, we make sure to lock the doors. But cybercriminals can come in without stepping foot inside. They use wireless printers, baby monitors, and even thermostat data to learn more about your life and strike when you least expect it. Here are some questions that will make you think about security:

  • What if you used Google Home or Amazon Echo to log in to your banking account? Hackers can access the information shared with voice-activated IoT devices.

  • What if you come home from work and none of your devices work? A hacker could install ransomware and lock your entire system unless you pay them. And there’s no guarantee they’ll respect their end of the deal.

  • What if you come home from vacation only to see an empty space because a hacker monitored your smart thermostat?

IoT device manufacturers don’t put a major emphasis on patching vulnerabilities. Smart appliances don’t contain system hardening and firewalls, features that make computers more secure. Some devices come with hardcoded or default passwords. Breaching them is like a child’s play to serious cybercriminals.

Security issues do exist. Now, let’s get into how you can address them.

Tips For Secure a Smart Home

A smart home is as secure as the least vulnerable IoT device in its net. That’s why you need to make every device impenetrable. Here are some tips on how to make your smart home more secure.

  1. Change the router name

The default router name looks random. It’s a bunch of letters and numbers, and it doesn’t mean much to you. But to a hacker, it gives the model name or tech specifications. When you change the name, don’t use any personal identifiers. Don’t use your surname, address, or pet name. Instead, change it to something unusual.

  1. Encrypt your Wi-Fi

Your smart devices don’t stand a chance unless you protect your Wi-Fi network first. Go to your router settings and use an encryption method such as WPA2. Enable it to keep communications and network data secure.

  1. Create a guest network

Create a separate network for your friends and relatives to log in when visiting. Keep your IoT devices on a private Wi-Fi account. It’s not that people close to you will try to hack you. But if they’re not following the best cybersecurity practices, a hacker can use their device to put your home at risk.

  1. Use a VPN

Virtual private networks offer a comprehensive home security suite. VPNs mask your IP address and encrypt your communication. It’s much better to install a VPN on your router because it automatically protects every connected device. The process is very easy. Write your router IP address and password to log into the admin panel. Configure the router and enter your NordVPN login and signup. Finally, test the connection before browsing.

  1. Change the IoT device login info

IoT products come with default usernames and passwords. Hackers know about this and abuse it when possible. That’s why you need to change the login info. Sometimes, you’ll come upon a device that doesn’t have the option to change the default password. The remedy is simple. Get another one.

  1. Use strong passwords

When you change passwords, avoid the most common ones like ‘1234567’ or ‘password.’ Ensure the new password has more than 12 characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

  1. Check the security settings

Default settings benefit manufacturers more than users. Nobody bothers to change them, which is how they get shipped. Check the settings out when you install your new IoT product, and disable what you don’t need. That includes things like remote access, using your personal data, etc.

  1. Update regularly

Whenever you see a notification for a new update, click on it. It doesn’t matter if it’s on your smartphone or on the smart thermostat. Most of the time, updates are security flaw patches. Check the websites of your IoT makers from time to time for new updates, download and install them.

  1. Use 2FA or MFA

One-time codes on an app or an SMS message do wonders for security. Multi-factor authentication keeps hackers out of your accounts, even if they grab your login info. Enable this option if your smart devices offer it.

  1. Don’t use public Wi-Fi

Unless you have a VPN on your phone, don’t connect to a public network. Connecting to public Wi-Fi is the easiest way to get hacked and fall for an MITM attack. The risks outweigh the benefits. Opt for mobile data, or use a VPN when you think about using a free network.

  1. Check everything after a power outage

When the power goes out, some of your smart devices reset. When that happens, check your devices and see if the security levels remain intact.

  1. Audit your current devices

If you have a security camera from five years ago that never received an update, maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Check for newer models that have better security, and update your hardware.