Did you know that your smart home can be susceptible to cyberhacks? Well, now you know, and today, I’ll walk you through how to protect smart home from hackers. Keep reading for more insightful information.
Many routine activities, like locking the door, dimming the lights, and adjusting the thermostat, can be accomplished with the swipe of a smartphone. Thanks to home automation features, we now have more control over our homes.
However, in today’s world, where the convenience of connected devices meets the ever-present concern of cyber security, your personal information might end up in the wrong hands. And it’s understandable if you have reservations about linking your home to the internet.
That doesn’t mean you should forgo the advantages of smart home devices. Instead, learn how to protect your smart home from hackers through the tips discussed in this guide. Whether you have a single voice assistant or a whole network of smart kitchen appliances, follow the tips in this article to prevent hackers from accessing your personal information.
What Is a Smart Home?
A smart home is a convenient home setup where appliances and devices can be automatically controlled remotely from any location with an internet connection using a smartphone or other smart devices. Devices in a smart home are always interconnected via the internet, allowing you to control functions like temperature and lighting remotely.
- How Smart Homes Work
Devices in a smart home are interconnected and can be accessed through a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or game console. Door locks, thermostats, cameras, and lights can be controlled via one home automation system, known as a smart home hub. Smart home devices can be programmed to follow certain schedules or commands.
For example, a smart thermostat can assimilate your habits and automatically adjust the temperature depending on your schedule. Other home automation systems alert you to the presence of motion in the home when you are away.
- Smart Home Systems
Smart homes have either wireless or hardwired systems or both. Wireless systems are easier to set up than hardwired systems. The only downside of such systems is you need reliable WiFi coverage and broadband service throughout your house. This means you need range extenders or hardwired wireless access points for them to work optimally.
Hardwired systems are more reliable and challenging to hack. They can increase the resale value of your home, but they are pretty expensive to install.
Here are some examples of smart home technologies:
- Smart lighting systems: Besides being controlled remotely, smart lighting systems can sense when you are in the room and adjust lighting as necessary.
- Smart thermostats: These innovative devices allow you to schedule, monitor, and remotely control home temperatures. They automatically adjust settings to offer you maximum comfort and efficiency.
- Smart door locks: With these systems, you can grant or deny access to guests. Smart locks can sense when you are around and unlock the door for you.
- Smart security cameras and systems: With smart security cameras, you can monitor your home from the comfort of your location. Smart motion sensors can distinguish residents, visitors, pets, and perpetrators and share notifications with relevant authorities if they detect suspicious behavior.
- Smart kitchen appliances: Big names like LG and Samsung provide smart kitchen appliances of all kinds, including smart coffee makers, refrigerators, and washing machines.
- Smart household monitors can detect a power surge and switch off appliances, sense water failures, and switch off the water to avoid flooding the home.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Smart Home?
Almost everyone today has invested in new technology in their home. Whether it’s a doorbell camera that captures the comings and goings of residents or a smart thermostat that can be controlled remotely, people of all ages have adopted home automation technology.
Like any technology, smart home technology has weaknesses, which I’ll discuss later in this guide. Let’s begin with the advantages.
Is there anything more convenient than using your voice or the push of a button to adjust the temperature or lights in a room? Home automation devices make everyday tasks easier, allowing you to unwind both at home and away from it.
Most technological appliances have remote control capabilities, allowing you to adjust things even when you’re not at home. There is no need to worry about leaving lights on, as you can turn everything off through your smartphone, eliminating the need to return home to check.
- Energy Efficiency
One of the exciting things about smart home technology is the increased energy efficiency it brings to your home. Automated thermostats can be programmed easily, so you can set optimum temperature throughout the day.
Energy management devices, including smart power strips and lighting controls, can assist with minimizing your monthly utility bills. You can even incorporate smart sprinkler systems and sensors to minimize water waste and notify you of potential leaks.
- Safety and Security
Gone are the days when we could only rely on dogs to protect our homes. Thanks to smart home automation and technology, you can keep your home security system in your back pocket.
Whether you want a simple security monitoring system or a more comprehensive setup, numerous internal and external security solutions support remote monitoring through a security company or fire department.
- Increased Home Value
Are you aware that smart home systems are now considered in home valuations? Smart thermostats, smoke detectors, and home security systems have all been shown to increase the resale value of a home.
Additionally, many insurance providers appreciate savvy homeowners by lowering their premiums because smart systems reduce damage and the number of claims a policyholder will file.
Disadvantages of a Smart Home:
- Compatibility Issues
One of the downsides of a smart home is the lack of technology that works well together. The smart technology industry is packed with rivals, and numerous options are on the market.
It’s best to research and determine the ecosystem that complements your needs. You don’t want to invest in different automated devices that don’t play well together.
- Internet Outages
While it’s uncommon, losing access to the internet for any length of time is already an inconvenience, but when your home relies on it to function, the frustration can escalate.
The Internet of Things has significantly changed our world, both positively and negatively. While we have access to these incredible innovative devices that make our daily lives easier, they also subject us to cybersecurity breaches.
Hackers can access your connected devices anytime, so securing your WiFi network and updating account passwords is paramount.
Are Smart Homes a Cybersecurity Risk?
Smart home technology unlocks the possibilities of utility and convenience but also introduces a new opening for cybersecurity attacks. Recent years have seen multiple disturbing attacks on connected devices, highlighting the possibility of harm accompanying the technology.
Such attacks are carried out due to weaknesses in encryption protocols, failure to install security updates, inappropriate storage of user data, and other vulnerabilities.
These attacks are dangerous because access to one improperly secured part of a smart home offers hackers wider control and information about other devices sharing a similar network.
Malicious actors can take this opportunity to set smart door locks to unlock automatically at a specific time of the day. They can also collect your email and password combination for one website and use it to access others. Using strong passwords that are tough to guess can help prevent hackers from accessing your home system.
How Do I Protect My Smart Home Devices?
As smart home technology is growing in popularity, the number of attacks on the Internet of Things is increasing. Many consumers are now reluctant to use IoT devices, even if many breaches are due to poor user setup. The Internet of Things has a significant role in the future of home devices, so avoiding the technology won’t benefit you in the long run.
With a bit of know-how, you can enjoy the benefits of smart home devices with peace of mind. Below, we offer critical steps you can take to secure your home technology and security systems from being attacked by malicious actors.
- Don’t Use the Defaults
This should go without saying, but I’ll discuss it to emphasize its importance. Hackers are not just targeting smartphones and desktops; they may also attack your smart home devices. You can protect your smart home devices from such attacks by creating unique passwords for your WiFi network.
Avoid easily guessed passwords like your name, birthday, phone number, or email. Use a combination of numbers, letters, and unique characters.
- Change the Default Router Login Credentials
Along the same lines as password-protecting your WiFi network, you should also prevent hackers from directly accessing your router settings.
You’ll need to change your router’s admin name and password to achieve this. Type your router’s IP address into the URL bar to log in to its settings. Some routers have an app that allows you to access the settings and information.
- Turn On the Firewall and WiFi Encryption
Most routers incorporate a firewall to deter outside hacking and WiFi encryption to avoid eavesdropping on data shared between your router and connected devices. Both are always active by default, but you should double-check to check that they’re on.
Login to your router settings and check whether the firewall and WiFi encryption are enabled. If not, turn them on.
- Use a VPN with Two-Factor Authentication
More advanced virtual private network (VPN) is making its way to consumers. VPN technology prevents hackers from stealing confidential information by creating strongly encrypted tunnels from each device to the internet. Blending VPNs with two-factor authentication is a good starting point for those seeking peace of mind.
- Separate Your Home and Guest Networks
Use the guest network to set up your IoT devices, cameras, personal voice assistants, and the rest. This guest network is different from the main one. Also, sift through the installation guidelines and change the default passwords on the new devices.
- Keep Your Router and Devices Updated
Software updates often pop up when you go online. While annoying, they serve a purpose, which frequently includes security updates. Companies that notice exposed security vulnerabilities issue updates and patches to eradicate the risk.
Keeping your router and connected devices current with the recent updates guarantees proper protection against hacking attempts. Program your router to automatically update in the admin settings and regularly check to ensure it is updated.
- Disable Remote Router Access
Remote router access lets any user not directly connected to your WiFi access the router settings. You only need to enable remote access if you want to access the router when not at home to adjust the configuration of a kid’s connected device. Remote access can be restricted in the router’s admin settings.
- Verify Connected Devices
Regularly inspect the devices connected to your network to ensure you know them. If you notice anything strange, disconnect it from your network and change the WiFi password. After that, reconnect all your previously connected devices, but any unauthorized users will be kicked off.
- Take Proactive Security Measures
The proliferation of Internet of Things devices mandates consumers to return to the basics of home networking, including isolating WiFi zones and checking monthly usage to discover anomalies. Review and manage the permissions of your smart devices. Disable irrelevant features and permissions that hackers might exploit.
By implementing these measures, you can be confident that your smart home is not a prime target for malicious actors.
How Your Home May Be Spying On You
Although smart home devices make the daily flow of life convenient, sometimes you may compromise your privacy to enjoy these benefits. Here are some ways the smart systems in your home are spying on you:
- Security Cameras
CCTV cameras should help keep your home safe, but sometimes they do the opposite. While it’s challenging to eradicate the threat of your security camera spying on you, you can make it tough by changing your camera’s default password and using two-factor authentication. Also, update your firmware and refrain from mounting cameras in sensitive areas of your home.
- Smart TVs
Smart TVs fulfill homeowner’s demands for streaming entertainment, like TV shows and movies from Hulu and other popular services. However, these devices can collect data on your viewing habits through a technology known as automatic content recognition.
With this technology, the manufacturer can collect data on what you’re watching, then use that information to recommend related programming you may like and send you targeted ads from multiple advertisers. You can opt out of automatic content recognition, but many manufacturers make it tough by deliberately hiding this option in their privacy settings.
- Smart Refrigerators
Your smart refrigerator can monitor family conversations that occur while preparing breakfast through the internal camera. Fortunately, legislative efforts are underway to ensure you get precise information about cameras and microphones in your new household items.
How Do I Stop Smart Home Devices from Spying On Me?
The invention of smart home devices has made our lives a lot more convenient than ever before. However, the very devices meant to make life easier can come at the expense of your privacy. You can prevent these from happening by implementing the following countermeasures:
- Switch Off WiFi When You Leave
Leaving your WiFi on throughout makes it easier for hackers to access your devices and inject them with spyware. So, it’s advisable to turn off your router when you’re not at home to eliminate the risk of hacking and minimize your utility bills.
- Erase Your Data
Voice assistant devices such as Google Home capture all your voice conversations to enhance the device’s AI to follow your command. Normalize deleting your data to prevent it from theft.
Simply log into your account on the manufacturer’s website or app and erase your data. Another tip is to mute the unit when not in use to keep it from listening to your conversations.
- Disable Your Microphone and Camera
Your laptop’s camera and microphone can be attacked by cybercriminals and used to monitor your activities without your consent. Counter this by deactivating your camera and microphone when not in use.
You can cover the camera with dark tape so the hackers won’t see anything. Alternatively, buy anti-spy camera covers, which retail at a reasonable price.
To turn off the mic, go to the list of devices on your laptop or computer, click on the microphone, and deactivate it. Only enable the mic when needed for voice calls on platforms such as Skype.
- Review App Permissions
Smart devices need companion apps on your smartphone. Review the permissions granted to these apps and restrict irrelevant access that seems invasive or strange to the device’s core functionality. This lets you control the data you share.
- Create a Guest Network
Improve your network security by setting up a different guest network, particularly for your smart devices. This segregation restricts direct access to your main network and sensitive data even if a device is jeopardized.
How to Protect Smart Home from Hackers
Modern home devices should not come at the expense of safety and security. So, as a homeowner, you should learn how to protect your smart home from hackers to keep your information from ending up in the wrong hands.
You can achieve this by securing your WiFi network with a strong password, updating firmware to counter cyber attacks, enabling two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized logins, and restricting remote router access.