smart techSmart home technologies have seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, making productivity nearly dependent on their presence. These devices have become household essentials, expected in every room of our homes. By 2025, an astonishing 77 million households are projected to be equipped with smart home technology, collectively amounting to a staggering 231 million smart devices. Astonishingly, around 21 million US households already possess professionally monitored security systems, but these systems are often inadequately secured, leaving them vulnerable to hacking.

Understanding IoT 

Smart home technologies have become so commonplace that we might not even realize what falls under this category. Essentially, any device that connects to the Internet belongs to the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT). If you were to take a tour of your home, you’d likely discover a plethora of smart devices you hadn’t previously considered.

Exploring the Unlikely Smart Devices in Your Home

From wireless doorbells and keyless entry locks to sprinklers, refrigerators, garage doors, washers, dryers, ovens, thermostats, lights, Bluetooth speakers, TVs, showerheads, and even lawnmowers, these gadgets have become ubiquitous. Unfortunately, in the race to bring these innovations to market, many product developers have treated security as an optional feature, rendering these devices susceptible to breaches.

The Darkside of Unsecured Smart Devices

You might think that an unprotected showerhead isn’t a significant concern, but let’s delve into some recent real-world incidents that have impacted US homeowners. In one notorious case, a popular security camera system suffered multiple intrusions, with hackers engaging residents in inappropriate conversations, taunting children, and even demanding ransom payments for their departure. Users of another security camera system experienced similar intrusions, including hackers playing vulgar music and cranking up the homeowners’ thermostats to a sweltering 90 degrees.

Outdoor devices like garage door openers, wireless doorbells, and smart sprinklers are particularly vulnerable since they can be easily accessed by individuals passing by with a computer or Wi-Fi transmitter. These outdoor smart devices serve as potential entry points, enabling hackers to infiltrate the entire smart home network.

Real-Life Threats

Now, imagine this scenario: You’re on vacation, sharing your status on social media, inadvertently revealing that your home is unattended. This information falls into the wrong hands, leading to the activation of all your smart technology. What could malicious individuals do with this access? They can manipulate your security cameras and engage with voice-activated devices like Alexa. They could turn on your coffee pot, air fryer, or oven, open your garage door, start your shower, or crank up your air conditioner. If they leave these devices running for the entire duration of your ten-day vacation, the consequences can be severe.

Understanding the Need for Enhanced Cybersecurity

The more connected devices you have at home, the more opportunities exist for criminals to infiltrate your network and access other data-rich devices. This not only endangers your private and financial information but also threatens your privacy.

As our dependence on IoT and smart home technology continues to grow, it becomes imperative for users to enhance their cybersecurity practices to safeguard their homes and personal data.

 

Smart Home Safety Tips Everyone Should Be Using

As homes get smarter, how can you avoid a security breach? Let’s explore some key strategies to protect your home and your privacy.

Follow these tips to help protect your personal data and privacy while still enjoying all that your smart home gadgets have to offer:

  1. Secure Your Network

The foundation of any smart home is its network. Just as you wouldn’t leave your front door wide open, you shouldn’t neglect Wi-Fi security.

Here are best practices:

Change your router’s default password to something strong and unique.

Use WPA3 encryption (look for Wi-Fi 6)

Create a separate guest network to isolate your smart devices from your main network.

Regularly update your router’s firmware. Ensure it’s equipped with the latest security patches.

  1. Strengthen Device Passwords

When setting up your smart devices, be diligent about choosing strong, unique passwords. Avoid using easily guessable information like “123456” or “password.” Use a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. For added security, consider using a password manager.

  1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Many smart home device manufacturers offer 2FA as an extra layer of security. By enabling 2FA you can keep people out. This is true even if someone manages to guess your password. They won’t be able to get past the secondary authentication step. This provides an extra safeguard against unauthorized access.

  1. Regularly Update Firmware

Firmware updates are essential for fixing security vulnerabilities in your smart devices. Manufacturers release these updates to patch discovered weaknesses. Make it a habit to check for firmware updates regularly and apply them promptly.

  1. Vet Your Devices

Not all smart devices are created equal. When choosing new devices for your smart home, research the manufacturer’s reputation. Look for products that have a history of prompt updates and robust security features. Avoid purchasing devices from obscure or untrusted brands.

  1. Isolate Sensitive Devices

Consider segregating your most sensitive devices onto a separate network, if possible.

For example, use a dedicated network for:

Smart locks

Security cameras

and other critical devices

This keeps them separate from your less critical gadgets. Such as smart bulbs or speakers. This way, even if a hacker compromises one network, the other devices remain secure.

  1. Review App Permissions

Smart home apps often request access to various permissions on your devices. Before granting these permissions, scrutinize what data the app is trying to access. Decide whether it’s necessary for the device’s functionality. Restrict permissions to the least required for the device to operate.

  1. Be Cautious with Voice Assistants

Voice-activated assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are incredibly convenient. But can also pose privacy risks. Review your voice assistant’s privacy settings. Be cautious about what information you share with them. Consider muting the microphone when you’re not actively using it. This prevents unintended eavesdropping.

  1. Check Your Devices Regularly

Regularly check the status and activity of your smart devices. Look for any unusual behavior. Such as devices turning on or off unexpectedly. Or unknown devices appearing on your network. If you notice anything suspicious, investigate and take action promptly.

  1. Understand Your Device’s Data Usage

Review your smart device’s privacy policy. Understand how it uses your data. Some devices may collect and share your information with third parties. It can be for advertising or other purposes. Make informed decisions about the devices you bring into your home.

  1. Stay Informed

Finally, stay informed about the latest developments in smart home security. Subscribe to our security newsletters, follow us on social media for unique content, and keep up with news articles on our blog. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to protect your smart home.

When in Doubt, Get Help From Our Experts

Be aware that every Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and wireless connection you establish is potentially susceptible to hacking. This awareness will enhance your comprehension of the vulnerabilities linked to your smart home gadgets and empower you with the knowledge to address them effectively.

Keep in mind: A well-secured home is the most intelligent home you can own!

Smart homes offer incredible convenience. But they also come with risks you shouldn’t ignore. Do you need some expert help setting up your smart home security? We’re here to help!

 

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I know most people need help with this. We look forward to being of service to you and answering any questions.

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