How to Protect Your Home from Cyber Criminals – Smart Home and IoT
Smart Technology has the potential to streamline your life and make everything from getting out of bed in the morning with shades automatically opening to having freshly brewed hot coffee in the kitchen and at night having your Home Security System turned on with driveway lights dimmed to conserve energy. The Internet of Things (IoT) is full of promises. Convenience, Safety and Energy Efficiency are all the perks of a smart home and the possibilities are only growing as the technology advances and with all the hype around the power of Smart Technology, it’s easy to assume that a home automation system with security applications, will itself be secure. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
The amount of data collected by IoT devices now-a-days has a wealth of sensitive information related to location, activity, Individual personality, health etc. etc. When it comes to home automation, the security of your personal IoT can’t be overlooked. If you are unfamiliar with the term, IoT refers to the growing networking of interconnected objects and devices that uses the Internet to communicate and store information.
As I continuet to explain what these devices are in your own home, than the answer is literally anything you have plugged in to your home Wi-Fi or uses your home Wi-Fi to function e.g. Smart TV, Smart Home Cameras or Smart Thermostats or as simple as your child toy e.g. Teddy Bear
Before I continue, let’s go back to 2013 August and if you would have read about a new which made headline on CNNtech that ‘Your TV might be watching you’ and if you didn’t that let me give you a synopsis. Basically Hackers found a way to get into your home TV’s which in this case were the Samsung Smart TV’s build 2012 and they did all of this due to a vulnerability they discovered in the firmware. This firmware vulnerability which is also known inside the IT world as ‘BUG’ enabled hackers to remotely turn on the TV built-in camera without leaving any trace of it on the screen. Although Samsung quick reacted and fixed the problem by releasing a new software update.
Another one which also created a lot of noise on the cyber world was the Teddy Bear hack. Spiral Toys, the company behind the CloudPets ‘smart’ teddy bears, exposed 800,000 customers by storing the data on an open-source MongoDB database. Among the data were the customer’s emails and passwords.
This isn’t the first time when a such a device has raised alarms. Authorities in Germany called on parents to destroy internet-connected dolls that could potentially be hacked. Toymaker VTech was also hacked in late 2016, losing the personal data of millions of parents and children, including selfies and private messages. And believe it or not, these breaches certainly won’t be the last we have seen and security measures within Internet of Things have a great deal to catch up to be defended against online prying eyes.
Now, let’s talk about how you can really protect your home and I didn’t mean physically but from the Cyber Criminals. I am sure after reading above there would be a lot of questions coming to you mind and I bet one of them would be that why don’t I just simple stop using Smart in my home. Well, to be honest I thought of that too but, I don’t think it would something we can afford to do i.e. unplug the wires.
Thus, what we need to understand is that what does Cyber criminals want? and if we can commit to some of the standards on how we will use this valuable data or keep it inside our home. Then I would believe it’s somewhat safer to say you are protected.
Consequently, Cyber criminals look for Social Security and Credit Card numbers, bank account information, email addresses, home addresses, birth dates and anything which belongs to you, which they can with this loot; lure you into a trap using social engineering (tricking you into believing they are legit) or take over your existing account or open new ones to make fraudulent charges.
Below are 10 ways to keep the Cyber gangs at bay:
- Encrypt your home wireless network with WPA-PSK instead of WEP type.
- If your child uses a computer make sure you create a separate account with restricted privileges on that computer, instead of using the default one which has administrative privileges.
- If you have Smart Devices connected on home Wi-Fi or Wired Network than make sure you have logged into them and change the default password to something strict and please try NOT to keep the same password for on all of them.
- Keep the Anti-Virus up-to-date on all home computers.
- If your kids or even yourself like using Chrome or Firefox instead of Internet Explorer and Safari which are default Internet Browsers in Windows and Mac than try installing Adblocker plugins.
- In case you have your own Router instead of your service provider default than make sure the router is always up-to-date for its Firmware. Keep an eye on the Internet for any potential security leaks on the model you are using and if you see one, change your router or contact the manufacturer for updates.
- Make sure your home computers built-in Firewall is always Turn-On especially for Public (external) networks.
- If you have a NAS or any other storage connected at home network containing family photos or documents than please make sure it has restricted from devices which needs to access it, access rules should not be wide open to the world.
- If you are Facebook or Twitter or Instagram person than try not post your location ‘Check-In’ on spot rather delay that information if you really have to post , ideally one should avoid.
Most importantly for Number # 10, please talk to your children about Cyber Security. Simple education can change the perceptive of the topic and living in this ultra-fast world of changing technology our children needs to understand the consequence of posting personal information. Read an article and discuss it on the dinner table.