How to Protect Your Smart Home Devices from Hackers

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Your smart home devices may cause you to lose your personal information.

“The Internet of Things” has created a phenomenon where all of our home devices (ex. thermostat, light bulbs, speakers, television, etc.) contain sensors that allow these devices to talk to and interact with one another using our computers and mobile devices.

While the creation of a completely connected environment might simplify our lives, what happens if one of these devices is hijacked or compromised?

Due to the presence of sensors, connected home devices are just as vulnerable to hackers as a computer or mobile device.  Due to its interconnected nature, a hacker could take control of one home device and proceed to infect others connected in the same network.  This could lead to theft of private and confidential user information.

While theft from home devices is currently not a common occurrence, the popularity and release of new devices will start to draw more hackers.  As a result, users should take measures to protect themselves against intrusion.

 

1) Strengthen your Wi-Fi Security and Passwords

In order for home devices to be enabled they require a Wi-Fi network.  To protect your devices, you need to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities in your Wi-Fi that a hacker could exploit.

 

WiFi-Security

 

One way to strengthen your Wi-Fi is to have two separate networks in your home.  Having one network that connects all of your home devices and setting up a secondary or guest network for your desktop, smartphones, tablets, etc. will make it difficult for hackers to infiltrate your entire network.

Reviewing and strengthening your passwords also helps to create a more secured network for your devices.   As mentioned in a previous article, you should not use the same password for multiple devices as this creates an easier access point for hackers. Creating complex passwords will decrease the chances of a security breach but be sure to keep a record of your passwords in a safe place (such as 1Password) so you can always log in.

 

2) Buying A Trusted Brand

From a security perspective, choosing a trusted brand of smart home devices makes a lot of sense. For example, devices make by Google and Amazon provide users with regular software updates that help to strengthen security and keep devices up-to-date.

There is a dark side to this, particularly in terms of user privacy.   Permitting companies like Google and Amazon to send updates to your home devices could give them access to the device’s data and lets them know how the consumer is using their device.

 

echo-home

 

Whether the cons outweigh the pros is up for debate.  Some consumers will choose a trusted brand like Google or Amazon because it provides all of the features that they are looking for and the desired security.  Others will be more hesitant due to the potential decline in user privacy.

 

3) Regularly Update and Audit Your Appliances

As previously mentioned, devices from reputable companies such as Google and Amazon will provide updates to users for their various smart home devices. However, it is often up to the user to stay on top of these updates and instigate them on their devices.

That being said, users should make a point of regularly checking the devices’ mobile application and websites to see whether any software updates have been released and proceed to install them.  That way, users reduce the backlog of old updates and their devices stay protected.

 

References:

Chen, Brian X. (2017, February 1).  Here is How to Fend Off a Hijacking of Home Devices.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/technology/personaltech/stop-hijacking-home-devices.html?emc=edit_th_20170202&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=42932520&_r=1

 

Courtney Rosebush is a Marketing and Sales Coordinator at Triella, a technology consulting firm specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Courtney can be reached at 647.426.1004 x 227. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2017 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted

 

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