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Defend your smart home from digital intruders

BY Allconnect | Thu Jul 23, 2015
Defend your smart home from digital intruders

Consumer technology for the home is heading in bold, new directions. Connectivity is at the center of innovation as manufacturers look for ways to take advantage of the smartphone boom and growing interest in home automation. 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 upgrading their home with Internet- and Bluetooth-capable devices must also consider the security logistics as well. There are plenty of ways to keep hackers and nosy neighbors out of your network, even with several smart devices. Implementing a few of the following strategies as you modernize your 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. If every device in your home is protected by the same phrase, then a hacker can gain access to your entire network of smart gear by breaching a single device. Thankfully, all of these scenarios can be prevented by taking your password generation duties a bit more seriously.

Don’t neglect physical defenses
When it comes to keeping your smart home safe, physical security should be incorporated into your planning 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 access those devices. A bit of extra lighting and landscaping can do much to deter criminals from lurking too close to your home and prevent them from inspecting your smart technology.

You can also invest in motion sensors and cameras installed by your local home security company. Often their packages include automated thermometers as well, making it easier to save electricity during the summer months and gas during the winter. Professionals have time to keep all of their equipment up to date on a routine basis and more tools for detecting and repelling criminal intruders.

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, according to Business Insider. 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 settings to better protect your home.

Avoid using smart apps on public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is extremely 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 will prevent this type of hack from ever targeting your home in the first place.

Keep kids in the loop when it comes to digital security.

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 leaching off the connection you receive from your high-speed Internet provider, 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.

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