Having a smart home makes life easier for millions of families in the U.S., but there are risks involved in placing your trust in online connectivity.
According to numerous studies, smart devices leave homeowners vulnerable to hacking. Hackers harness these devices to carry out other attacks, such as directed denial of services (DDOS) assaults on web pages. Last year, a major attack on Twitter and other popular sites used this method.
Hackers can also gain control of your Internet of Things (IoT) devices to control your lights, thermostats, and cameras. Most of the time, these are pranksters that want to have a little fun at a homeowners’ expense, but sometimes they have malicious intent.
If you can unlock your front door from a smartphone, what’s to stop a high-tech burglar from doing the same? If you’re concerned about IoT home security, here are some tips to keep you safe.
Update Your Devices
If you own a computer, you know how irritating the pop-ups informing you of an update are. You want to watch cute cat videos, not update software that doesn’t seem to have any impact on your device.
Those annoying pop-ups exist for a reason though. Most updates are for safety purposes. Companies work hard to stay on top of online threats and protect your privacy; these updates include protection against hackers, viruses, and fatal system errors.
The problem is that most IoT home devices don’t actively seek out updates the way your laptop does. You have to put in the work yourself. Check the manufacturer’s webpage and your phone app once a week to make sure you have the latest software installed on your device. This step alone typically stops more than half of online attacks.
Get Creative With Your Passwords
When you get a new WiFi router, they come with default passwords. Most of these passwords are pretty easy for professional hackers to crack, though.
When people decide to change their password, they end up choosing something personal to them, such as their birthday or the name of their significant other. The problem with this approach is that hackers start with the personal information available on social media.
For example, if your wife’s name is Amy, you shouldn’t add her birthday to it so that it’s “Amy1022”. That’s something that anyone with a Facebook account and five minutes can guess.
You want a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that aren’t personally significant to you. Remember, online criminals, for the most part, are lazy. They want an easy target. If they want your information, make them work for it.
Create Two Different WiFi Networks
If you’ve ever invested money, you’ve heard financial advisors tell you to “diversify.” There’s a good reason for this: The most effective way to minimize risk is to spread it out.
The same theory applies here. If you have two networks, you’ll decrease the chances of hackers getting what they want. Set one network up for your computers and devices that you do your day to day web surfing and shopping binges on.
Use the second network for your IoT devices. You’ll have to check your router to see if it has multiple SSID capabilities. If not, consider upgrading. Follow the same protocols with both when it comes to setting up strong passwords and upgrading software.
Stay Away From Public WiFi
Coffee shops, hotels, and shopping malls all offer public WiFi as a way to encourage customers to spend more time with them. The problem is that these networks are vulnerable to attacks.
Hackers can access your device through these networks and discover your passwords. If they gain access into your IoT home security app, they’ll have everything they need to hack into your smart devices.
Wireless hotspots, like the ones provided through cellular companies specifically for internet use, are one option if you need internet on the go. Hotspots have the added benefit of giving you internet if you travel significantly by car for work or fun.
There are also companies that provide virtual private networks (VPNs). You’ll need to do some research on these companies to find a reputable one.
Disable Guest Network Access
Would you let anyone into your home? If you allow guest network access, you are, in essence, leaving your front door open with a sign that says “come on in.”
Be careful about who gains access to your network. These visitors can see other devices on the networks, and from there it isn’t hard to gain access to passwords.
Some hackers have gone as far to create bots that gain access to networks that allow guest access. These bots collect information before you realize they are there. That information goes into the hands of someone that wants to get into your system.
Cut off guest access, keep it off, and only let people you trust into your network.
Use Firewall Protection For IoT Home Security
There are two things to do when protecting your smart devices with a firewall. First, if a device requires unfettered online access, don’t use it.
Next, check the owner’s guide of your device and find out which ports and IP addresses the device uses. Set-up your firewall to only allow traffic on those specific ports. This protects you from attempts to probe into your network and gather information.
Protect More Than Your Smarthome Devices
It’s important to have an IoT home security plan in place, but this is only one aspect of protecting your family and investments. Home insurance and specialty dwelling plans are essential for every homeowner.
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