The growing presence of smart home devices has ushered in new opportunities for connectivity in our homes, but the technology also opens doors for new threats that homeowners must be aware of. Nowadays, instead of fearing a burglar smashing through your window, families must also be wary of criminals using online tools that can control the devices that power our homes.
Unfortunately, cybercrimes are graver and more prevalent than ever — and the risks are much higher with smart homes. Juniper Research reports that $2 trillion has already been lost to cybercrime in 2019, and with the year not even finished, it’s clear that cybercriminals are showing no mercy. However, that isn’t to say that you should disconnect your house completely from the Internet or avoid buying smart home devices that could enrich your day-to-day life.
So we’ve compiled a list of things to look out for, and how to stay vigilant.
Securing your home connection
The first line of defense for your home is your wireless connection as it is, after all, where the rest of your devices connect to. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect your hard-earned assets. In a list of cybersecurity tips by Marcus, they emphasize the importance of securing your connections and creating strong passwords. Many homeowners make the mistake of keeping the password provided on their router, and this puts them at risk. Choose a random name for your SSID or Wi-Fi network, and create lengthy but easy-to-remember passwords beyond 12 characters. If you can, try to make it a mix of numbers and letters as well. You can also create a Wi-Fi network for guests, as some routers can handle two SSIDs. Stay vigilant and ensure that your basic security measures are in place.
It’s important to note, however, that while these steps are pretty effective in blocking out many threats, they aren’t infallible. This is why Trend Micro Vice President JD Sherry warns that anticipating getting compromised is part of the process, as there is no way to completely protect your devices.
Examine your devices
Before purchasing devices that need to be connected to the Internet, chief scientist at McAfee Raj Samani advises being selective about the devices you connect, and to think about whether or not something is a necessary purchase. For instance, smart doorbells, which are designed for homeowners’ safety and security, can be compromised — with the likes of Amazon’s Ring video doorbell being susceptible to hackers manipulating live feeds. So instead of an old-fashioned burglar breaking your window, modern day thieves can now walk through your front door.
Thus, it’s important to conduct due diligence and really ask yourself whether or not you need a particular device. If, at the end of the day, you say yes and purchase it, make sure to follow the security protocols in the manual and keep the software constantly updated to allow for security patches from the manufacturer.
For your everyday devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, take the extra step to ensure their data is protected, as a hacked device can provide clues to cybercriminals looking to break into your home security, too. Invest in VPNs for safer browsing, install security software to scan external devices, and back up your important data on external hard drives.
Practice good cyber hygiene
Like brushing your teeth or combing your hair, good cyber hygiene entails habits that encourage the security of your home. Place passwords on all devices that can be secured, and remember to let it automatically update at all times. Schedule your devices to power off at certain times of the day — particularly at night or during the day when you’re gone. After all, no one can attack your tech if it’s switched off.
Additionally, it’s smart to do your research on the best brands in terms of security, and go for brands with a good reputation and that you trust — whether that’s tech giants like Google, or a relative newcomer like SimpliSafe. Check out Top 10 Trends in Home Security to Watch, such as neighborhood surveillance systems and facial recognition software, maintaining good security habits isn’t difficult given all the tools available to us.