Smart homes are an exciting step toward widespread adoption of the Internet of Things, and many people are finding the convenience of autonomous home products like smart heating and cooling systems and remote control for lighting and other devices save them time and money. However, there’s a dark side to smart homes: cyberattacks. Because the technology is so new, many manufacturers aren’t paying attention to the security risks these systems can pose, causing major vulnerabilities to smart homes. You might wonder: why would someone want to hack a toilet? Or a television? Other than for fun or idle curiosity, hackers might want to test the home’s defenses and figure out if it would be possible to gain access to sensitive data about the inhabitants—or even gain access to the home. Smart home cyber security is a huge concern as this industry grows in popularity, and consumers who choose to implement this technology need to be aware of the risks.
What’s interesting is that each year, the top reason that consumers convert their traditional homes into smart homes is for security purposes, despite the low level of cyber security that has been put on these homes in the past. While it’s true that autonomous security systems can help protect the home from physical intrusion, they also offer new vulnerabilities and opportunities for cybercriminals to strike. Some cyberattacks can even help hackers gain physical entry to the home, whether that means disabling security systems or opening garage doors. With this in mind, consumers need to be aware of the risks of cyberattacks and take steps to ensure a smart home is smart on security as well. With 400 new threats every minute, it’s not unlikely that smart homes will soon be major targets for criminals.
The Importance of Smart Home Cyber Security
Though there are risks to home automation, smart homes are a growing trend, and as long as you’re careful with security you should be able to reap the benefits of smart home systems without too much worry. Being aware rather than afraid is the best way to approach the problem. Here are some tips for protecting your home from cyberattacks.
Prioritize Secure Systems
In their haste to be ahead of the curve, many early manufacturers didn’t pay much attention to smart home cyber security. Some homes’ controls could even be accessed online with no password whatsoever. This is why carefully reviewing the security and privacy policies for devices you are considering is crucial. Don’t make the mistake of believing that a cyberattack couldn’t happen to you—make sure you’re buying devices with adequate security capabilities.
Update Systems on a Regular Basis
Security is always changing, because cybercriminals are constantly innovating to thwart the newest technology. Keeping systems updated will help to keep your devices equipped with the latest defenses and reduce vulnerabilities. All systems in your network should be updated frequently, and smart security can help your system detect when updates are needed.
Secure Your Router
Your devices are only as safe as your network, which is protected by a firewall and password. Consider changing your password often, and upgrade to a newer, more secure router when you can. You might even want to consider a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for your smart devices, for added security.
Ensure Password Protection & Alerts are in Place
It’s important to ensure that not only will there be password protection for the devices you install, but that you change the default password on receipt of the product. This may seem obvious, but optimizing existing security settings can be more difficult than it seems. Install applications that will notify you if someone attempts to gain access to your systems so you can monitor the activity of your smart home network.
The Riskiest Smart Home Products
If someone were able to control your Roomba, it would be spooky and annoying, but if they open your garage door, you’re vulnerable to theft. Some smart home devices are riskier than others, so it’s important to take a hard look at what you actually need when planning your upgrades. Some of the riskiest smart home products include:
Smart fridges (adapting to users’ schedules)
Televisions (spying through front-facing cameras)
Home automation systems (controlling security system, lights, water pump, garage door)
Biometric Security in the Future
Intelligent security is needed to protect smart homes. Today, fingerprint recognition is being used to keep our smartphones and other devices secure. In the future, more smart home systems will begin to incorporate these biometric security measures (such as facial recognition for keyless entry), allowing users additional security without the hassle of entering a password for every command. Right now, smart home cyber security professionals are just one step ahead of cybercriminals, but biometrics may be the answer to keeping our networks secure in the future.
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