In this tech-driven day and age, many people have smart homes where everything is connected to the internet, from door locks, TVs, and light bulbs to fridges, baby monitors, ovens, garages, security cameras, and more.
While modern homes can be both fun and helpful for owners, the sad fact is that the internet-connected devices in a property can also potentially be hacked. Unfortunately, many cybercriminals are continually finding advanced methods for hacking homes remotely, and can even find ways to remotely unlock doors without leaving a trace of forced entry.
If you have a smart home or office, or plan to purchase a related product soon, it is important that you do everything you can to keep your possessions, premises, and information safe from prying eyes. To avoid ransomware attacks and other security issues that are predicted to rise in 2017, read on for some tips you can follow today.
Change Default Passwords and ID Names
The first step to take against cybercriminals is to update the passwords (and usernames where applicable) on the smart devices you buy. Manufacturers typically ship products with default passwords set up on them, and make a note in the installation instructions that consumers should change the password when first setting up the device.
While this is pointed out, most people actually neglect this tip (or don’t read the instructions to begin with), and end up having a bunch of devices in their homes which hackers can easily guess the password to. After all, most of the default codes are things like “admin” or “123456”, so they don’t take much work on the hacker’s part to guess!
As well, most of these default passwords are common knowledge anyway, because they’re kept the same for years at a time, or can be found with a quick search on the brands’ websites or on public online forums.
To ensure your devices are more secure, update the codes on them to passwords which will be tricky for hackers to work out. They should always be a minimum of eight characters, and be made up of a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, with symbols and numbers too.
It is also a good idea to change the ID of each of your devices to make them more secure. Typically the default device ID includes the name of the manufacturer, which, if you leave it, lets hackers know straight away, if they’re scanning systems to find a way in, what brand device you have, and that you aren’t aware enough to have changed the ID from the default setting. This then makes the gadgets much more vulnerable, as well as your whole system, to attack.
Secure Your Wireless Network
Next, keep in mind that since most smart devices have to be connected to the internet all the time, another way that cybercriminals can gain access is through the wireless network you use at home to connect all your products.
If you’re like many people out there who keep their Wi-Fi open (that is, not password protected), this means that anyone in the vicinity can utilize your internet by accessing your network router and other access points.
To ward off this kind of attack, you must ensure that your networks are secure. People should have to input a password to access your internet service at home, and, as mentioned above, this code needs to be a proper one. Remember: nothing that can be found online, such as the names of your family members or pets, or birthdates of yourself or loved ones, should be used.
It also pays to install firewalls and security software (such as malware, antivirus, and anti-spam products), on your computers so that hackers can’t find a way into the smart home apps on those devices and into your gadgets as a result.
Update Software Regularly
Another great way to better protect your smart home is to regularly update the software and firmware and drivers on each of your products. Due to the fact that most smart home gadgets don’t automatically update, it pays to set yourself a reminder to check for updates at least once a month. This can typically be done on the smartphone app you use to control your smart devices.
Keep in mind too that, even if you have only just purchased a product from a store, there may have been an update that has become available since the item was manufactured. As such, don’t forget to check for updates as you install each gadget.
Manufacturers create updates when they find vulnerabilities in the security of products, so it’s important not to delay. Hackers will, after all, find these security holes very quickly, so you don’t want to give them an opportunity to get into your devices.