Beware of the Chinks in Your Smart Home Security Armor

Beware of the Chinks in Your Smart Home Security Armor

Smart homes have become the domestic face of the Internet of Things (IoT). In the past decade, users have become used to the constant connectivity of their devices in their homes and on them to the internet. The idea of smart homes has enabled safer, economical, entertaining, comfortable, and hyper-connected living spaces. This trend is set to continue in the upcoming years as per an industry report. The Smart Home Market’s estimated value was $64.6 Billion in 2019 and is expected to reach a whopping $246.42 Billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25% over the forecast period between 2020-2025.

However, this extreme connectivity comes with quite a few drawbacks. As you connect your home devices to the internet, you are exposing them to the risks associated with the cyber world.  Your devices i.e. security cameras, smart locks, refrigerators, baby monitors, and other devices can be hacked. In fact, your complete home network can be compromised if you don’t take the appropriate steps to secure it. Even a chink in your smart home system can be the cause of endangering the entire system.

There have been a lot of incidents casting a long shadow on the future of smart homes. One of the incidents told by the smart home users is of their hacked baby monitor that was linked to a smart Nest camera. The hacker uttered offensive language and threatened to kidnap their baby.

Researchers at Checkpoint discovered a flaw in Amazon Alexa’s that allowed hackers to access user’s sensitive information and conversation history and they could install or remove apps from the user’s devices without their knowledge. In another incident, Alexa recorded a couple’s private conversation and sent it to a person in their contacts residing some 176 miles away.

A user notices its Google Home Mini waking up at random times without any prompting. Upon checking their My Activity Portal, the user discovered that the devices have been recording almost everything under their roof and uploading them to the Google server.

These have been some of the incidents among hundreds occurring with the smart home devices. So if you don’t want to be the recipient of such hair-raising incidents, learn about the vulnerabilities posed by a smart home system and take precautions accordingly.

Router Vulnerability Means Weakness in Your Smart Home System

Your smart system is linked to your Wi-Fi network. So if your router’s security is compromised, then your entire home system will be open to vulnerabilities. Hackers can access your computers, mobile devices, and subsequently your private data. Moreover, they can gain control of your devices like a security camera, smart lock, or a baby monitor,

It’s a terrifying occurrence. If your router gets hacked, a cybercriminal will gain access to the main system, which links all your smart devices and appliances. This scenario may seriously compromise your security as hackers steal your private data and exploit it.

One of the ways to address this vulnerability is to get a secure internet connection via a reliable internet provider. As the router and the home network is the core of the vulnerability, an ISP like AT&T can adequately secure it for you. AT&T Home Internet Plans utilizes a fiber-optic network, which is the most secure broadband connection type by nature. Plus, it provides its own top of the line routers for a nominal monthly fee.

Moreover, you can install a VPN, it ensures that all your internet traffic on the devices connected to the network are highly encrypted. Plus, the VPN can protect your IP address and encrypt your connected devices. Consequently, preventing criminals from even having a glimpse of your online activities.

Vulnerable Smart Home Appliances And Devices

Any device connected to the internet is at the risk of hacking, which means every IoT device is unsafe. Cybercriminals and hackers tend to utilize multiple platforms to identify any exploitable firmware vulnerabilities of the smart devices in the market. There have been quite a few instances of hackers infiltrating the smart security devices and CCTV cameras.

If a hacker is able to nail down any single vulnerability in any of the security device or appliance, it is highly likely that they will access the entirety of the smart system, which would leave your private and sensitive data exposed to exploitations.

Therefore, you should always ensure that your smart appliances firmware is up to date. These firmware updates address security flaws in smart devices with security patches and additional features that deliver a seamless and safe smart environment.

Malicious Device Updates

In another smart device scandal, researchers at Kaspersky discovered a new vulnerability in the smart home devices that didn’t require password hacking.

Fibaro smart device permitted users to download and upload smart hub backup data from its cloud server. See that a smart hub is the main controller of all other smart household devices such as your smart lights, thermostats, coffee makers, refrigerator, security cameras, and more.

The cybercriminals saw a vulnerability and dived right in. These hackers would generate a backup copy, upload it, and convince the user to download it in the guise of a firmware update. The cybercriminals would mimic messages from Fibaro, which is known as the phishing technique.

After installing this update, smart homeowners were exposed to unauthorized access to their private data from these hackers and myriad other threats.

To protect yourself from such an elaborate scam, read reviews from other users on the latest software updates. An active and reliable firewall can also help. Beware of phishing attacks, there are certain tells about this technique. If you feel that anything is off, contact your service provider directly and share your concerns.

How to Protect Your Smart Home?

Every smart home automation device is bound to have security holes. But should you be worried? A smart light flashing or intractable heating system is quite annoying, but nothing to be afraid of and it’s of certainly no interest to the cybercriminals. However, a smart lock of a security camera is another thing and its exploitation would be scary. Worry not, where there is a problem; there is a solution. If you intend to futurize your home, it would be smart to alleviate the risk of hacking. Here are some tips compiled:

  • Read reviews, ask questions on forums from fellow users, and read up on smart devices, particularly about their security before purchasing anything. To see how the company reacts to discovered vulnerabilities such as when CheckPoint discovered a flaw in Alexa, Amazon was quick to acknowledge it and improve its security. That is a good sign.
  • Configure your home Wi-Fi network correctly and properly.
  • Whichever device or app you are using, make sure to stay updated about its discovered vulnerabilities and software updates.
  • Secure your devices and control panels with strong and unique passwords, so to avoid any brute force attack on your password.
  • Download programs and updates from the official websites only, and do not provide them any unnecessary permissions.
  • Use a secure VPN connection when connecting your smart device to a public Wi-Fi because third parties can access and intercept any Info sent by you and the apps online. This includes authorization tokens and passwords.

Wrapping Up

A futuristic smart home is certainly not a bad thing. Even without an internet connection, we are faced with myriad risks, so why not enjoy the convenience of smart devices. You can definitely do that without any worries by becoming aware of any chinks in the smart home armor and then addressing those vulnerabilities.

Beware of the Chinks in Your Smart Home Security Armor

Baldwin Jackson is a successful digital marketer with expertise in search engine optimization and content marketing. The perfect balance of his analytical ability and creative thinking is what sets him apart from other practitioners in the digital marketing realm. He has helped a lot of small and medium-sized businesses in crafting their digital marketing strategies that are not only cost-effective but delivers results as well.

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