Cybersecurity IoT Quick Tips

Protecting Your Smart Home – Three Major Devices To Secure

Our homes are becoming smarter and smarter as technology continues to advance in ways intended to make our lives easier and safer. The devices that make our homes so smart can give us a sense of security and help us with some of the tasks in our lives; however, it is important to protect these devices in order to be able to keep that peace of mind which is supposed to be brought to us through them. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the risks for four of the most hackable devices in our smart homes today and we’ll wrap it up with ways to protect against such threats.

Smart Home Security System — Cameras, door bells, alarm systems, and other tech that we use to monitor our homes’ security fall under the ‘security system’ category. Approximately 21 million Americans use a smart security system to protect their homes. There are many security measures taken by companies, but hackers are quite persistent. One company which sells consumers camera-based security systems experienced a series of security intrusions where hackers were able to use the system to communicate with residents. Many of these malicious actors made inappropriate comments and some of them demanded a ransom in order for a targeted family to be left alone.

Baby Monitor — Smart baby monitors can be a godsend for new parents who want to let their baby soundly in their nursery but while still keeping an eye on them. The market for baby-related items continues to grow and grow as we discover more products to help make baby and parents’ lives easier — the smart baby monitor sect of this industry alone is expected to grow to be worth $1.7B by 2025. While the industry grows quickly, there will need to be a focus on making security an integral aspect, as there have been malicious actors in this world before. In August of 2021, for example, it was found that over 83 million smart devices, including baby monitors, were hacked in a way which allowed hackers to listen to and watch live audio and video feeds from the vulnerable devices.

Smart Virtual Assistant/Smart Speaker — Devices like Amazon Alexa fall under the category of smart tech known as virtual assistants or sometimes smart speakers. These are sort of general purpose devices that can help us in our daily lives — from updating our grocery lists to counting down a kiddo’s time they have to wait until getting a treat to playing our relaxation playlist. Smart virtual assistants can make our lives easier, but they do potentially pose a threat to us as well. There are privacy concerns with these devices — in early 2020, there was a security error that caused Google Home devices to record users at all times without them asking and without their knowledge. This has of course been patched with a security update since, but that was a huge violation of people’s trust and has likely deterred many consumers from purchasing such products. Such risks pose a real threat to you and your home because of things like this invasion of privacy.

How To Protect Your Smart Devices

Use unique passwords for each IoT device — The most important and basic cybersecurity practice is to use unique, complex passwords for each device or account. It is even more important for your IoT devices that make up your smart home to have secure passwords used to protect them because there are potentially real-life implications if a hacker gains access to your devices. We can take the security system mentioned above as an example; if someone hacks into your home’s smart locks and alarm system, they have the potential to break into your house with no force. Such a hack is much more likely if your password is an easily guessable, commonly used password. You can add a layer of protection to all of your devices by using complex, unique passwords.

Keep your devices updated — Manufacturers of IoT devices will often send out communication about software updates that they’ve put out so that you know that an update is available. These updates are meant to make your devices safer, more secure, and to patch any vulnerabilities that were previously present. As we saw with the smart virtual assistant/smart speaker example, there are some scary things that hackers can do when they find and take advantage of a security vulnerability; however, keeping the devices updated helps to resolve such risks as the company discovers them.

Secure your WiFi Networks — Just as there should be strong passwords to protect your devices, you also need to protect your WiFi network in order to fully secure your home. If your network is insecure, it makes it that much easier for a malicious actor to gain take hold of your personal information and devices. Be sure to protect your network with a password and also try to not plaster your WiFi password all over your house for everyone who enters to see. You can also help to better protect your networks by checking all of the devices that are connected to your network. If there is an odd man out that you don’t recognize, you can kick it from your network; if it was a legitimate device, you can just reconnect it! This is a good way to monitor your network and keep your home secure.

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