Check Point Software Technologies has seven tips to keep your smart home devices out of the hands of hackers. In an increasingly connected world, it would be hard to find a home that doesn’t have some sort of smart device, in fact, according to the latest research there are 2.22 million smart homes in the UK alone.
Whether it’s a speaker that can also curate a shopping list, a doorbell with a fully functioning camera or a smoke alarm that connects directly to your mobile phone to remind you to replace those batteries, these devices are here to stay. However, while these gadgets provide much convenience for consumers, they are also simultaneously multiplying the number of access points that hackers can use to steal private and personal information.
An investigation by Which? reported that, on average, homes with smart devices are vulnerable to 12,000 hacking or unknown scanning attacks from across the world in just a single week, which tells you the size of the problem. From there you only have to switch on the news to hear horror stories, ranging from smart devices listening to private conversations to hackers using camera-enabled gadgets to gain access to a constant stream of live video from inside our homes.
Plus, as if that wasn’t enough, these intruders can then go that one step further, and take advantage of the world’s new shift towards working from home, to then jump over to our often unprotected work devices that are connected to the same compromised wi-fi and gain access to the corporate network. By using our smart home devices as a gateway, these intruders can leave behind a path of total chaos, affecting not only personal privacy but also resulting in a possible corporate-wide data breach.
As consumers, we’re hyper aware of the precautions to take to prevent burglars from entering our homes and stealing our physical possessions. However, most often, we overlook the hidden threats posed by our smart home devices that allow malicious hackers with sinister intentions to watch and listen to our most private conversations conducted in the comfort and confines of our own homes.
With every year that passes, we are seeing a constant trend of hackers becoming ever more aggressive and, as a result, any device connected to the internet is ‘fair game.’ In the landscape we now live in, it’s not enough to assume that these incidences just ‘won’t happen’ to you and all owners of these devices should be taking extra precautions to keep their information protected as it only takes only one overlooked device for a hacker to create untold harm and distress.
Tips to keep your smart home devices safe and secure:
- Update software: Keeping your finger on the pulse and updating your devices when required is a must to keep your home and your data protected. This is because the way that bad actors try to attack devices is constantly changing. So it’s important to have the newest form of protection against these evolving threats.
- Set up a standalone wi-fi network for your devices: Most routers will allow you to create a separate network for your smart home devices, which will create more obstacles for hackers to overcome when trying to access your devices. You may also wish to consider creating a ‘guest setting’ for your wi-fi that will still allow your friends and family to access the internet but without the added risk of having to write down or virtually share your primary network login details.
- Level up your passwords: When it comes to creating strong passwords for your devices, make sure that they are random and not personal to the individual that owns the device. This is because this information is very accessible to threat actors and won’t offer the best protection for your home. If you find that complex passwords are harder to remember, consider using a password manager to help keep your devices protected.
- Double authentication: By setting up an additional form of authentication, known a two-factor authentication or 2FA, hackers can be deterred from accessing your devices. While this may pose a mild inconvenience to the consumer, it’s nothing compared to the turmoil a hacker can cause once they’ve gained access to your smart home devices.
- Encryption: By ensuring that your router is using the highest level of encryption you can keep your data safe from unwanted threats. Make sure not to forget any internal wi-fi extenders or powerline home networks that will also have a setting to allow encryption across the home network. This, in turn, will add an extra layer of protection for, not only your router but also for your smart devices.
- Change the default password on your router: This is separate to your wi-fi passwords but just as key. Most routers are given a simple default password to allow for easy set up when first installed but as a result are just as easy for hackers to guess, there are even lists of the most common ones online, so be safe and change them as soon as possible.
- Keep your work devices protected: With more of us now working from home, it’s important for your work devices to be just as protected as your personal devices when they are relying on your home wi-fi. You can do this by making sure that your devices are up to date with the latest anti-malware technology. By keeping them secure, you can reduce the threat posed to your smart devices.