Today’s smart home devices are a vast improvement over the clunky old-school versions. They connect us to the outside world, help us manage day-to-day tasks, and make our homes feel like homes again. But these home automation devices can also pose a security risk if they’re not used responsibly. It’s not difficult to imagine how smart devices in the home could be used to spy on homeowners, or how they could be used to commit crimes. As a result, it’s important that you know how to secure your home smart devices – both to protect your family and your personal belongings, and to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
In this article, we’ll discuss the risks posed by smart home devices, and we’ll offer some helpful tips on how to best secure them.
What are the risks posed by home automation devices?
Smart home devices collect data. They watch, listen, and analyze your activity and use that information to provide a service. But these devices don’t just keep track of what you do – they keep track of what you say too. And while that might not seem like a major privacy concern, it is.
Smart home devices record a lot of what we say and do. This information is then made available to third parties. Depending on the manufacturer, the information could be stored locally on the device, or it could be sent over the internet to the manufacturer or a third party.
If smart home devices are insecure, then this recorded information could be used to identify and track individuals. It could also be used to gather sensitive information, like financial information, passwords, or personal medical records.
Smart home device vulnerabilities
Internet-connected home automation devices pose a security threat because they often have a tendency to be unsecured. Many smart home devices don’t use encryption to protect your data, or don’t use encryption properly.
It’s important to understand the security vulnerabilities inherent in most smart home devices. We cover three of these vulnerabilities below.
Vulnerabilities Regarding Device Identity: Device identity is the ability to identify individual devices over a network. This could be done by using an IP address, a MAC address, or by using a unique identifier like a device’s serial number.
If a device doesn’t have an IP address or a MAC address, then it cannot be identified. This means that even if you know the smart device’s name, you don’t know who is making the connection. Device Identity Vulnerabilities: Not All Devices Use Identifiers: Some devices just have a name, while others don’t have an identifier at all. These devices could be identified over a network, but they couldn’t identify themselves.
Some devices just have a name, while others don’t have an identifier at all. These devices could be identified over a network, but they couldn’t identify themselves. Device Identity Vulnerabilities: Identifiers Can be Hacked: Identifiers are only as secure as the database they’re stored in. If a hacker can get their hands on that database, they could use the devices’ identifiers to identify them.
Identifiers are only as secure as the database they’re stored in. If a hacker can get their hands on that database, they could use the devices’ identifiers to identify them. Vulnerabilities Regarding Device Configuration: A smart home device’s configuration could be vulnerable to attack. For example, if an automation device supports more than one device using the same network, then it could be susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks (where the attacker sits in the middle of the connection).
If a device’s configuration is not secure, it could be altered by an attacker to cause damage or to record sensitive information. Device Configuration Vulnerabilities: Network Infrastructure is Vulnerable: As we’ve covered, a home’s network infrastructure plays a key role in protecting a home’s devices. If a home has an unsecured network, or a network that’s not properly protected, then any of the vulnerabilities listed above could be exploited by an attacker.
Tips for securing your smart home devices
While it’s important to understand the risks posed by smart home devices and to be prudent when using them, you can further protect your devices by following these tips.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with your smart devices : A VPN encrypts data that’s being sent over the internet, making sensitive information unreadable by eavesdroppers. Use a VPN with your smart devices to protect sensitive data.
A VPN encrypts data that’s being sent over the internet, making sensitive information unreadable by eavesdroppers. Use a VPN with your smart devices to protect sensitive data.
We know this is a tough one, but your passwords need to be hard-to-remember, hard-to-type, and hard-to-miss-add-up passwords. In other words, don’t use your birth date or your pet’s name as a password. Also, don’t use the same password for multiple services. If an attacker gains access to your password database, then they gain access to all of your accounts.
Keep devices up-to-date : Make sure that all of your smart devices are up-to-date. If you’re using a smart device that’s more than a few months old, then you should update it immediately.
The best way to make sure that your devices are secure is to change your passwords regularly. Change your passwords after every breach, and make sure that the new passwords are hard-to-guess, hard-to-memorize, and hard-to-find.