Unsecured Isn’t Smart: Protecting your Smart Home and Devices

Unsecured Isn’t Smart: Protecting your Smart Home and Devices

It’s a new era we’re living in. Theft isn’t just a threat to your car or money or things around your house; data and information is the new gold. With IoT devices, smart homes, and the web of connectivity we’ve all embraced, security isn’t just an alarm system or anti-virus programs on your computer. It’s a bit strange to think about it; your home can be hacked along with your phone and computers. Your identity, internet behavior, bank accounts, bill records, all of it is connected. While the digital age is a wonderful time to be alive, this interconnectivity has also provided new threats.

Don’t worry though, a properly secured home and IoT devices mean you can enjoy all that technology has provided without running the risk of a cyber attack. Let’s go over some typical weak spots and ways to further secure your devices from threats. 

The Not So Smart Home: Weak Spots

For a home to be smart, it doesn’t mean that you have a fancy system that reads the fridge. If you have a baby monitor connected to your phone that is connected to your television and computer, you pretty much have a smart home. These common weak spots apply to anyone that has a webcam or connected devices around the house. It’s important to remember that you’re not immune to these vulnerabilities because you don’t have a formal smart home system. 

With that said, let’s look at some common weak spots cybercriminals take advantage of:

  • Smart thermostats. Cybercriminals can hack and use it to see when you’re home or away for long periods.
  • Digital assistants. Most people have an Echo or Google Home or some voice-activated assistant. Those can be hacked as well and used to listen in on your conversations. 
  • Smartphone connections. Your smartphone has all your information from locations to financial records. We also tend to connect our phones to our TVs, stereos, baby monitors, webcams, even subway passes in some areas. When everything is connected, it’s easier for hackers to get in and get it all at once. From watching you through your webcam to shutting everything down for ransom. 
  • Modems. When people get their internet installed, they tend to stick with the name of the modem. Most internet companies don’t have the strongest out of the box security. For a somewhat experienced hacker, it’s easy to get into your internet. Even if you don’t have smartphone connections and fancy smart tools everywhere, weak modem security is enough to make you a target.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of cybersecurity weak spots people have, but they are common ones. Now that you know a few–and one or two must apply to you–let’s talk about ways to better your smart home and device security.

5 Ways to Smarten your Smart Home

The core reason smart devices are targets is that they lack hardware connections and good built-in security. They have lots of hardcoded passwords, default passwords, and no real system hardening. So, let’s look at what you can do to help secure your smart devices.

  1. Securing your Smart Home Know your data. When a new app or device comes into the picture, take a good look at what data it is trying to access. If it isn’t necessary, do not give it permission!
  2. Privacy policies. It can be daunting, but reading those privacy policies can save you from a lot later on. They lay out what data they’ll be accessing and what they are going to use the information for. It’s important to not be in the dark on that.
  3. Unique passwords. Probably something you hear a lot, but it cannot be overstated. Don’t use the same passwords for everything and don’t make them something simple. Complex passwords with special characters, numbers, lowercase letters, and cap letters are your first line of defense. The more complex your password, the longer it will take for a cybercriminal to get into your system. This especially applies to your router, modem, and wifi. 
  4. Social media. Who doesn’t love their social media platform, whether it’s Facebook or Snapchat? The danger with them is all the privacy settings most don’t bother with. Checking in places, location settings, and features of that nature allow cybercriminals to track your movements as well as stalk you. The goldmine of location data is worth quite a bit. Share wisely.
  5. Out in Public. It’s better to turn off your WiFi and Bluetooth when out and about. Leaving them on is like leaving a broken lock on a backdoor or a window cracked in your house. Easy access for cybercriminals. Also, it should go without saying, never leave your smartphone unattended. It doesn’t take long to hack past your password or install some malware.

Have Smart Things the Smart Way

Don’t let hackers and cybercriminals scare you off from taking full advantage of the tech we have today. Smart baby monitors, thermostats, fridges, and phones all enhance our day to day life. Every time something new comes along someone will figure out how to use it to hurt you. All locks, vaults, cars, and homes have been met with thieves, and so has data. Just don’t let your security become lax, and you can enjoy your smart tech in a smart way. Stay digitally safe!

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