In today’s digitally connected world, we have more internet-enabled devices in our homes than ever before. Just about anything from refrigerators and speakers to cameras and even light bulbs can be connected and easily controlled from anywhere.
These “smart” devices have indeed made our lives easier, allowing us to monitor and automate day-to-day tasks with just a few swipes and taps. However, since they also present vulnerabilities which could be exploited, protecting them from hackers becomes vital.
Take, for instance, cameras can be hacked to monitor your home without you having any knowledge about it. Similarly, an intruder could unlock your smart doors remotely, that too, with no indications of forced entry.
A vast majority of IoT devices are controlled through apps or online portals, which themselves often have a multitude of vulnerabilities. Therefore, you must not only secure the smart home devices you own, but also the smartphones or computers that control them.
Though nothing will guarantee that your smart home won’t be hacked, a few simple measures can be taken to secure the connected devices and reduce the chances of a hacking attempt. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how you can amplify your smart home security.
Related Read: How To Build A Secure Smart Home
Secure the Router
All the traffic from your IoT devices passes through your router, which makes it a natural control point for your smart home.
For this reason, it’s important to secure your router – start with changing the default credentials as they are a matter of public record.
Once done, enable Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) encryption and follow that up by updating the firmware of your router if it hasn’t been done yet.
Additionally, you can use MAC address filtering to prevent any unauthorized devices from connecting to your network and wandering around your smart home.
Here's how to do it:
Create Separate Networks
You should create separate networks as it can significantly lower the risk of hacking across smart devices.
Here, you have two options available: you could either get a separate internet connection, or split the existing one into two networks.
How, you may wonder? Well, it's no rocket science, really, and can easily be done by hooking up additional routers to your existing network.
The first network would be for connecting your personal devices, whereas the second network would exclusively be for all your IoT devices.
Apply Security Updates
We all have been there, right? Your smartphone or computer notifies you to install a software update, but you go ahead and select the “Download Later” option instead.
While this may seem harmless to do, it's important to understand that it actually leaves you more susceptible to dangerous viruses and malware.
Your smart home devices also get software updates from time to time, which not only improve security but also add cool new features.
Since hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, check for firmware updates at least once a month and install them as soon as they are available.
Manage Your Passwords
Your newfangled devices (such as Smart TVs and Wi-Fi printers) should never use their default administrator passwords.
Hackers can easily find these passwords online, so make sure that you change them to something strong and complex.
The passwords you select must include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation marks and symbols.
Where possible, change the usernames as well to prevent intruders from brute forcing their way into your smart devices.
Employ Two-Factor Authentication
Although good password management is important, adding an extra authentication factor can further secure your IoT devices from unauthorized access.
It could be a security key received on your phone or a fingerprint to keep intruders away from your smart devices and the apps you use to control them.
Many smart device apps now offer two-factor authentication, aka 2FA, which you can opt into by looking under “Settings”.
By doing so, even if a hacker is somehow able to obtain the username and password of a smart device, it’s less likely that they will be able to access other sensitive information.
Here’s a video to give you a better idea:
Install Antivirus Program
It’s important to have some sort of protection on the smartphone or computer that you use to control your IoT devices.
For example, if a hacker can access your smart garage-door via a malicious app rather than hacking the device itself, they will always go for the easier way.
Antivirus programs are extremely important as they come with built-in firewalls that let you decide which apps can or cannot run on your smartphone or computer.
Sure, they can’t protect you against all known viruses, but not having one guarantees that you will be hacked sooner or later.
Set Up a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Another crucial aspect of keeping your smart home safe from hackers is setting up a reliable virtual private network like PureVPN.
Every time a smart device (or any device for that matter) connects to the internet, it can be hacked to invade your privacy or assist in an attack.
By integrating a VPN on your router, you can prevent hackers from exploiting your IoT devices as it will not only change your virtual location, but also secure all communications via military-grade encryption.
Even if you have created separate networks, PureVPN’s multi-login capability gives you the freedom to configure its VPN service on up to 5 routers with a single account.
IoT devices have truly made our homes smarter and our lives easier, but they also bring threats to our online privacy and security. This doesn’t mean we need to avoid technology altogether, but rather emphasis should be placed on keeping these devices as secure as possible.
The various measures that we have discussed above will cerainly help you in creating the most secure smart home. Remember, focusing on security is all it takes to ensure that your smart home is more than capable of resisting any attack from the darkest corners of the internet!