The Smart Home Owner's Guide To Keeping Hackers At Bay!
The Internet of things (IoT) has become an indispensable part of our daily lives.
Statistics show that IoT devices connected base has increased from 15.41 billion in 2015 to 23.14 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to 31 billion worldwide in 2020.
One of the greatest bequests of IoT has been the advent of smart home gadgets like doorbell cameras, smart kitchen appliances, data-logging sensors that track your sleep, etc. Essentially, it has pervaded even the most intimate areas of our household. While this is surely a blessing for homeowners, it has its own challenges.
The smart home’s most prevalent threat is automated attacks that take over these smart devices (much like personal computers) — in other words, hacking! A recent study discovered that it takes an average of 30 minutes to hack and find passwords to most smart home devices.
Read on to know the challenges that smart home devices pose to security!
How A Smart Home’s Security Might Be Compromised…
Research has shown increasing vulnerability in smart homes. IoT has enabled smart devices to collect data and send it to the cloud.
For instance, a thermostat collects data for optimizing energy or a door lock that sends entry-exit patterns of members should be appropriately secured or else they could leak information when people are not at home indicating that a house is unoccupied. This data aids burglaries. Many IoT manufacturers and service providers do not provide full security measures for their products.
A hackathon sponsored by MIT’s Media lab involved around 150 hackers hacking various smart home appliances, and they were successful in controlling 25% of targeted devices within 3 hours.
In another hackers conference, it was found that 12 out of 16 smart locks that were Bluetooth enabled had low security and were prone to attacks.
Even eight out of nine baby monitors were found to be prone to attacks in another research conducted in 2015.
There are instances of hackers who have conversed with children over compromised systems in addition to overhearing various conversations through baby monitors, much to the parents’ shock.
Another big eye-opener is that of a Kaspersky security expert who revealed shocking vulnerabilities in his own smart home network. He was not only able to hack his network without using his credentials but was also able to infect them that would, in turn, give the hacker a backdoor entry to carry out further attacks.
Some common entry points for a hacker could be:
- Smart Devices: Without encryption, smart TV could be used to intercept onscreen payments, access files, and other vulnerable data.
- Internet Router: Hidden functions enable your ISP to access everything, right from your laptop to your webcam. The consequences could be dire if a cybercriminal were to find this information.
- Network Attached Storages: Storage devices don’t have very strong default passwords. If hackers do manage to get in, they can easily inject malware and infect other devices.
Essentially, every connected device can be used as a stepping stone for an attack!
What Causes This Cyber-Related Vulnerability Of Smart Home Devices?
1. Inadequate Design:
Various product designs fail to provide even basic security measures or demarcate security functions from other functions.
2. Inadequate Authentication and Access Control Procedures:
Various authentication procedures like passwords, PIN, biometrics, fingerprint, etc. may be inadequate for a smart home. For instance, the usage of factory-set passwords that are not secure.
Also, various users interact with a single home IoT like voice assistant, door security system. Further complicating things are the multiple users and complex relationships in a household like naughty children who want to annoy siblings or parents, curious babysitters, parents monitoring their teens, etc.
3. Insecure Communications Protocol:
The IoT uses various communication protocols like Satellite, Wi-Fi, Radio Frequency (RF), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC) to connect devices. Though these protocols provide a specific area coverage, they can be hacked from various external sources located remotely.
4. Lack of Firmware Updates:
Failure to update firmware or correct vulnerabilities in current software augments cybersecurity incidents. Further, the risk is compounded when one relies on the third party as in the case of open source software or commercial off-shelf components.
It could also be the result of weird advertising gimmicks — for instance, Burger King invaded and hacked google homes!
Burger King’s commercial hijacked google assistant through its commercial that ends by stating ‘OK Google, What Is A Whopper Burger?’ This, in turn, triggers Google Assistant’s voice and Android devices and all begin to describe a Whopper in detail from Wikipedia. Imagine a host of devices reciting the definition of a Whopper all at the same time? This forced Google to delete the word Whopper from its search, though the ad still wakes up Google Assistant!
Sounds pretty scary, right? There are ways to circumvent these threats though! Let’s take a look at how you can secure your smart home…
Tips To Secure Your Smart Home!
Follow these tips to make your smart home outsmart the hackers.
1. Secure Router:
Secure router by giving it a unique name that does not reflect your personal data or address. Do not use the default name by the manufacturer as it may define the model or make.
2. Secure Wi-Fi:
Use a proper encryption method for Wi-Fi, and also use complex, unique Wi-Fi passwords that cannot be guessed easily.
3. Dual Authentication Mode:
Use two-factor authentication like a password sent to your mobile in addition to email alert etc., as they may make the process difficult for hackers to gain entry.
4. Install Malware Protection:
Install malware protection as they will alert you whenever malicious software are used on your device. Though this may not guarantee a 100% safety, not installing them will definitely make you prone to attacks.
5. Segregate Network Connection:
Do not use a single network connection for all the devices. Have a twin network connection or segregate the existing connection using VLAN, by doing this even if one device in a compartment is attacked it will not pave the way for entry into other devices. This is required more for devices that you do not trust.
6. Update Firmware and Software:
Do not neglect software updates especially those sent by the manufacturer. They may be sent for rectifying a flaw or enhancing security. Update Software and Firmware on a regular basis.
7. Modify Default Passwords:
Default Usernames and passwords can be hacked easily hence change the passwords to an alphanumeric and special character combination.
8. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi/Unknown Networks:
Avoid public networks in coffee shops etc. Turn off the auto connect feature in open spaces and take precautions when using shared connections.
9. Modify the Default Settings:
Change default security and privacy settings to your need.
10. Visitors Network:
Use a separate network for guests and visitors. This network should not be connected to any IoT devices.
11. Research When Buying Devices:
Before installing devices research on the privacy policies, how updates are enabled etc. and make a wise and informed decision.
12. Have Operational Controls:
Exercise control on who should have access to what devices, say for example children, babysitters and housemaids can have limited access.
Q-See’s Approach To Protecting Smart Home Devices and Systems!
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