In this smart home era, every appliance in your home can be connected to the Internet, from light bulbs, smart TVs and CCTV cameras in your hall, to refrigerators and ovens in the kitchen which also poses security risks as these devices can be hacked. By the end of 2016, there were already 21.8 million smart homes in North America and by 2021, it is anticipated that this number will increase to 73 million, which contributes to fifty percent of all households.
The majority of home devices are operated remotely using online portals and smartphone apps. To protect these devices from getting hacked, you should first secure the computers and smartphones which are used to control them with robust security software like that offered by Bitdefender. You should protect the usernames and passwords used to login to these devices, and avoid sharing them with anyone or writing them anywhere. You should also protect your email accounts from phishing emails or spam, and avoid clicking any malicious links you receive in suspicious emails.
Change the default usernames and passwords on your home devices and avoid sharing passwords with anyone
Most of the home devices come with a default username and password which can be found easily on online forums, and hackers can use this to access your devices. For example, a botnet named Mirai made a huge DDoS attack by logging into the IP cameras and other IoT devices using the default username and password. Hence, you should always change the default username and password on your home device. Always use a strong password with a minimum of 8 characters and combination of numbers, special characters, capital letters etc. You should even keep changing your home Wi-Fi password periodically to avoid anyone sneaking onto your wireless network.
Hackers use phishing and social engineering techniques to steal the usernames and passwords for your home devices. You should be cautious regarding any email which asks for personal information. You should see if there is an option to enable an additional level of authentication for your devices, along with a username/password such as a one-time password sent to your mobile/email address or random password generated using Google Authenticator. Some home devices come with an additional security mechanism such as biometric authentication using eye-scan and thumbprint and also face recognition techniques. Always enable two-factor authentication for your home devices if that option is available to ensure that nobody can gain unauthorized access to them.
Install the latest firmware, security updates and patches
When you purchase any smart home device, it comes with a default operating system and software which can be quite old. The manufacturers keep updating the software based on new vulnerabilities identified from the field. You should frequently check for the latest updates and security patches available for your home devices and install them to avoid any security loopholes or vulnerabilities getting exposed to hackers. Most of the home devices don’t have an automatic update option like your desktop or smartphone; hence you should manually check the website of the manufacturer for the latest updates and get your devices upgraded with the latest software. For example, Apple published an urgent update which patched a security flaw that could be used by hackers to overtake iPhone and other Apple devices, and to use them as spying tools.
Install Antivirus and Security Software to protect from Malware
You should always protect your laptops, tablets, smartphones and desktops from malware by installing reliable and trusted Antivirus software. Since you control your home devices from your laptop or smartphone, you should first protect them from malware such as viruses, Trojans, worms, ransomware, spyware, rootkits etc. There are numerous antivirus products available on the market with each claiming that it is the best.
You should do your own research and compare different products based on the cost, performance, reliability, periodic updates, and certifications done by independent labs, awards and user reviews to find the best product which is suitable for you. If you look at the Bitdefender versus Kaspersky comparative, you can see that Bitdefender is critically acclaimed and was awarded product of the year by AV-Comparative for best performance and various other awards. Many free products available online are not certified by any testing labs and are not genuine. Always choose a secure and robust product like Bitdefender to protect your home devices from the attacks of malware and hackers.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Also, try to avoid using public Wi-Fi for connecting your home devices since they are not secure and hackers can easily sneak through your confidential data on such shared connections. There are new vulnerabilities exposed in Wi-Fi such as KRACK (Key re-installation attacks) and hence you must be really cautious when using any Wi-Fi connection to access the internet. Ensure that your Wi-Fi devices are updated with the latest firmware which has the fixes for the KRACK vulnerability. You should always use a VPN to securely access the internet when you are at home. This can protect you from hackers who try to steal your private data and man-in-the-middle attacks. You can also use a firewall to protect your home network from unauthorized access and filter any suspicious traffic.