Thanks to the smartphone boom and a growing interest in home automation, smart home technology is more popular than ever. The number of smart home devices shipped to consumers has grown from 9.5 million in 2016 to a projected 29.4 million in 2019, according to Statista.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who attempt to abuse advances in technology for nefarious ends, and the surging popularity of the smart home is no different.
Homeowners interested in internet- and Bluetooth-capable devices must also consider smart home security. There are plenty of ways to protect smart home devices and keep your smart home from being hacked, even with several smart devices. Implementing a few of the following tips to secure your smart home will ensure your family remains defended on all fronts.
“Hacks can be prevented by taking password duties a bit more seriously.”
Complicate your passwords
It’s easy to take the complexity of your passwords for granted. After all, who wants to remember an eight-digit sequence of numbers or remember to replace every “a” with an “@”? Few can resist the urge to use one simple, easy-to-remember password for every router and smart device in their home – weren’t these devices bought to make life less complicated?
Taking this approach poses a huge threat to smart home security, however. Criminals are fairly adept at guessing obvious passwords like addresses, birthdays and pet names.
Instead of using your pet’s name + your date of birth, try using random letters, numbers and/or symbols with a mixture of capitalized and lowercase letters. Having a strong, unique password makes it harder for digital intruders to break into your network or devices.
Additionally, if every device in your home is protected by the same password, then a hacker can gain access to your entire network of smart gear by breaching a single device. Thankfully, you can help secure your smart home by using different, random passwords for your smart devices.
Update early and often
While software updates for your smart devices may seem unnecessary, routine patches provide developers with an opportunity to fix known vulnerabilities and beef up a device’s internal defenses against hackers. That’s why it makes sense to investigate which of your smart devices receive scheduled updates and how often they are set to occur. You may be able to adjust these security settings to better protect your home.
Don’t forget to install up-to-date anti-virus and malware detection software as well. These basic lines of defense are useful for keeping out data miners and other harmful tactics that hackers might use to steal information found on your network.
Avoid using smart apps on public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is convenient, especially when using data-intensive apps like multiplayer games or content streamers. However, what makes them so accessible is also a major drawback — nonexistent security measures make it simple for hackers to monitor the activity of those sharing the network and gain access to their apps.
Avoid using smart home apps in public Wi-Fi areas for this very reason. Your home’s security will face a major compromise if a criminal is able to hijack your remote security camera or digital door lock.
A bit of careful planning and awareness of your surroundings can ensure no one is targeting your home in the first place and keep your smart home from being hacked. Additionally, be sure to protect your home Wi-Fi connection.
Double-check access logs
Speaking of unauthorized access, you can actually keep track of which computers are accessing many of your smart devices. Check the device’s smartphone app for an IP history and keep an eye open for any addresses that don’t match up with your own.
If you can’t identify the source of this access, then your home may be under surveillance. Checking these IP histories on a weekly basis is a great way to ensure that you’re always aware of unauthorized entry into your home’s digital spaces.
Don’t skimp on router security
Whether it takes memorizing a ridiculously complicated password or adding excessive amounts of encryption, do everything in your power to keep your router safe from intrusion, warned CBS News.
Not only will this prevent neighbors from leeching off the connection you receive from your high-speed internet provider, but ramping up your router security will also prevent hackers from gaining direct access to the information traveling in and out of your interconnected network. When you begin to reconfigure your smart home with these security considerations in mind, prioritize encrypting your current model or upgrading to a router more advanced defenses.
In addition to this extra level of security, adding a two-step authentication process makes it much more difficult for hackers to break into your network. Supplementing a password with a PIN verification via your smartphone, for example, is an easy way to reinforce your network’s perimeter.
Consider professional installation
While part of the appeal of smart home technology is it’s ease of use, you may want to consider hiring a professional to install any new smart home devices. CBS News pointed out DIY automated security cameras and temperature controls rank among the least secure when installed straight out of the box.
One way to increase their security is to have them professionally installed. A professional can not only make sure everything is done properly, but also give you tips and tricks to keep things secure. If these devices have already been installed in your home, then be sure to target these systems first when making home security improvements.
Avoid a “show-and-tell” of new devices
It’s tempting to show off your latest toy; however, many homeowners falsely assume it’s OK to share information about their latest smart home devices on Facebook or other social media accounts.
Discussing certain things online, like the type of smart devices installed inside your home, provides potential criminals with an idea about the vulnerabilities in your household network. Keep quiet about your home’s security measures, especially when it comes to home automation, in order to minimize criminal interest in your abode.
Don’t neglect physical defenses
When it comes to keeping your smart home safe, try to incorporate physical security as well. All the high-tech security equipment in the world won’t do a thing if your back door is left unlocked.
Furthermore, allowing criminals direct access to your perimeter makes it easier for them to assess the types of smart technology in use in your home and plan ways to hack those devices. A bit of extra lighting and landscaping can deter criminals from lurking too close to your home and prevent them from inspecting your smart home technology. You can also invest in motion sensors and cameras installed by your local home security provider.
These precautions will help you keep your smart home devices secure. For additional home security, check out home security providers in your area.
Originally posted 7/23/15. Last updated 2/11/19.