What Are Smart Home Devices?
In the last few years, smart home devices became increasingly popular. Also known by the name the Internet of Things, these devices give users additional comfort as they can be controlled wirelessly through the smartphone.
The Internet of Things encompasses devices like light bulbs, cameras, doorbells, thermostats, and such. Smart home devices have great potential, so no wonder experts believe that their use will skyrocket by 2020.
However, there have been numerous cases in which hackers used these type of devices to steal people’s data. One of the problematic areas is that many smart home devices are manipulated with central apps like, for example, Samsung SmartThings or Google’s Nest.
What a hacker is looking for is a point of entry, and once they are inside the network they can manipulate other smart home devices.
Let’s say you have a smart bulb that will turn on the moment you come home. If a hacker gets access to it, they can turn it on, which can trigger other devices to act like you are at home. Such as your alarm system.
This may sound like a Black Mirror episode, but, as we will see, these cases are not that uncommon. According to Avast, there are around 32,000 smart homes that are vulnerable to hacking.
Smart Home Devices Are Not Hard to Hack
This conclusion has been reached by the researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Israel. In their 2018 study, they were testing security features of 16 smart home devices. They didn’t have the problem with hacking even most important security devices like doorbells and cameras. How is that possible?
Omer Schwartz, the lead researcher in this study, provided us with an explanation. Basically, all these devices are mass produced. So, once a hacker figures out the weakness of a specific product, they can easily use that knowledge against somebody with the same device.
The tested devices were secured with a password, but as it turns out, this was not enough. The most secure product on the list, a baby monitor, took a mere 2 days to hack into.
Additionally, if your smart home device is exposed, the hacker might also get your WiFi password. This lets them monitor your network, and they could trick you into giving your credit card info online.
The findings of this study were taken to the manufacturers, and they will be using them to strengthen the security of the devices.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Although these stories are scary, you can do a lot to protect yourself and your family from unwanted intrusion.
Create Multiple Strong Passwords
Even if you have a strong password, it is important not to reuse it for multiple accounts. If you are forgetful, use a password manager app that will generate and save multiple complicated passwords for you.
Keep Software up to Date
Regularly check for updates and install them as soon as possible. Companies like Google and Samsung spend a lot of money to test their devices, and once they find a potential problem, they roll out the updates. Smaller companies usually don’t have the money for such rigorous research, which leads us to the following.
Buy Smart Home Devices From Respectable Brands
In 2018 Marketplace, a consumer show from Canada came across the site called Insecam. This site showed live stream footage from multiple families, without their knowledge. When they tracked down one of the homeowners, they found a smart camera from a Chinese manufacturer in their possession.
Install a VPN on Router
Compared to a regular app installed on your PC or Android, a VPN on a router is much superior. With it, all your devices will be secured 24/7. Get one from a reliable provider NordVPN.
Be Wary of Phishing Emails
No matter how credible some requests may sound, never send your login or any important information through email.
Use Devices with Two-Step Authentication
In this case, if unknown devices try to log in your network, you will be informed. A code will be sent to your safe device (for example, a smartphone) without which a hacker will not be able to log in on your network, even with your password.
Even though smart home devices can be hacked, using the above-mentioned security measures will keep you out of harm’s way. Remember that these devices are not magical and that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.