Smart Home Security: How Safe Is It?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our lives by connecting the devices we use. It’s easy to remotely control a single device. The first TV remotes were developed in the 1950s. But now you can connect all your devices, from stereos and TVs to heating, door locks, and lighting, to a single controller over the Internet, giving you complete control over your home.

Connected homes makes your life easier and more enjoyable. However, there are drawbacks. Connecting your home system to the Internet exposes you to a variety of security risks.

How does a smart home work? 

Smart homes use devices that connect to the Internet and have a small computer that can be used to control them remotely. These devices can be as small as a coffee maker or as large as the entire heating system.

The difference from the traditional TV remote control is that it connects using the Internet protocol and all are connected via a hub. This can be a home network router or smartphone. Unlike the TV remote, these devices can collect and store information about usage, habits, and preferences on the device or network. With all this data, smart homes pose a potential privacy risk, and each device added to the network adds new privacy concerns.

Let’s take a closer look at the types of security threats you need to consider when using a smart home network.

Smart home security risks and threats

Multiple types of security threats lurk in the connected home.

First, individual devices may be insecure. Some home IoT devices have been rushed to market and their security may not have been adequately addressed. In some cases, user guides do not address privacy concerns or provide sufficient information to secure your device. For example, baby monitors and security cameras have been hacked to allow criminals to see inside the home.  Many experts say that when it comes to IoT devices, you need to think about “when” because it’s easy to hack and has little protection, rather than what happens when it’s hacked.

Second, your home network may be insecure, and intruders may have access to the data stored on that network. Criminals can track usage patterns across devices to see, for example, when you are away from home.

If your home network is controlled by your main Internet account, it’s not just the data from your IoT device that can be at risk. Vulnerabilities can compromise personal information, such as email, social media accounts, and even bank accounts.

Many users control their connected homes via smartphones, making it an extremely valuable database for anyone looking to hack into your life. This creates a high risk if your phone is hacked, stolen, or someone eavesdrops on your connection. Make sure your home network security is not compromised by a single vulnerable IoT device. If you want to take advantage of the smart home, you should first address potential security issues.

Smart home security tips

The first step in improving home security is isolating your smart home network from other networks. This can be done relatively easily by setting up a guest network for your home IoT devices. For example, your refrigerator could be hacked and become part of a botnet that sends spam and mines cryptocurrency. However, since it occupies its own network, it cannot access your email or bank account. With the Guest Network, you can also improve the security of your home network in other ways.

Then make sure that the access, control, and delivery devices on your network are secure. This includes smart speakers, internet routers, computers, and smartphones. If your smartphone is hacked or stolen, your entire home security system can be compromised. Therefore, buy Android security or security for iOS devices and make it your top priority.

  • Use your smartphone’s screen lock to make it inaccessible to anyone when you are away.
  • Make sure all computers and smartphones are password protected.
  • Use a strong password that is difficult to crack. Most importantly, don’t use passwords that are easy to guess (such as your date of birth or name).
  • Make sure the main computer account is not at the admin or root level. When a hacker breaks in, you don’t have administrator privileges, which limits your system options.
  • Change the default username and password for your router. Renaming can prevent hackers from guessing which device or network they are using.
  • Create a secure network using WPA authentication. Use firewalls on all computers and routers. Most routers have a built-in firewall in their hardware, but the user must first enable the firewall. If your existing router does not offer good security features, replace it with one that does.
  • Use strong security software on your computer and smartphone to prevent malware installation and virus infection.
  • Get antivirus software or choose a total security package that provides an all-in-one cyber security solution for your smart home.
  • Always apply security patches and updates to keep your software up to date.
  • Older software has vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit.

Even with all these home security tips, logging on to public Wi-Fi on your laptop or phone is risky. If you don’t need authentication to access your network, you don’t even need a hacker. If you use public Wi-Fi regularly, learn how to protect your privacy and smart home with a virtual private network (VPN) such as Kaspersky’s VPN Secure Connection.

Security benefits of smart homes

Smart homes have some security challenges, but they can also create opportunities to make your home more secure. Most devices are intended to make your life easier, but some can provide the security and protection of your smart home.

For example, a remote locking system eliminates the need to copy keys or put spare keys under the doormat. This allows you to control access not only to your family but also to trusted services, such as household cleaners and answering machines. It eliminates the need for physical inspection and makes it easy to verify that doors and windows are locked by simply contacting the checking device.

When you’re not at home, you can remotely turn lights and Wi-Fi on and off for added security. This gives outsiders the impression of being at home, even when you are away on weekends or late at night. Remote access to surveillance cameras can reveal potential problems.

However, these benefits are only available if you have already protected your smart home network and protected it from hacker attacks.

The future of IoT smart homes

New products are constantly being developed to bring the power of the Internet to home devices and systems. By the end of 2021, 25 billion smart IoT devices, such as smart light bulbs, air quality monitors, doorbells, washing machines, and refrigerators can be purchased. Your IoT home can provide incredible control, but it’s up to you to ensure that it also provides smart home security.