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The Internet of Things (IoT) makes life easier, but it also brings with it previously unimaginable security risks. Homeowners are now confronted with ensuring their vacuums don’t spy on them and their refrigerators don’t sell their data.
It’s enough to make you rethink whether it’s worth it to be able to turn your dishwasher on from your phone or get an alert that you’re low on eggs.
Never fear; you have powerful tools at your disposal to secure your home IoT so you can enjoy the convenience it offers without anxiety. From how to choose smart devices to the right VPN service to protect all the devices in your home, here’s what you need to remember about securing your IoT network.
Choose a Quality Smart Home Platform
Mismatched devices open loopholes for hackers, so opt for a smart home ecosystem from one provider over a mix of devices.
Big players like Apple, Google, and Amazon invest heavily in user security, with regular software updates to mitigate emerging threats before they affect customers.
They also encourage users and researchers to look for potential and existing vulnerabilities. Big tech companies even host cybersecurity bug bounty programs so that users can get a reward for reporting a potential hacking attempt or weakness.
A security researcher was awarded over $100,000 by Google for discovering a weakness in Google Home speakers that allowed the hacker to listen to what the speaker’s microphone picked up.
If you’re using a potentially affected device, you can be confident you’ll receive updates in the event of security issues. Lesser-known vendors might lack consistent security updates, leaving your setup vulnerable. They typically don’t reward their community for reporting potential issues either.
IoT Ecosystem Options:
● Google Home: Known for its robust voice command recognition and comprehensive smart home control via the Google Home app.
● Amazon Alexa: Offers a vast range of compatible devices and budget-friendly smart speakers, especially during sales events like Prime Day.
● Apple HomeKit: Prioritizes security with stringent third-party device certification, albeit at a higher price point.
Pick Devices With Care
The first question is whether having smart features on a given device is worth the risk. What would happen if the device was compromised? A hacked IoT-enabled robot vacuum with a camera poses a different level of threat than a compromised IoT-enabled sprinkler system.
Wi-Fi Is Safer
Wi-Fi-enabled devices provide a higher level of security than Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Wi-Fi-enabled hardware is typically more expensive, but it may be prudent for devices you absolutely don’t want to have compromised.
Keep in mind that you’ll still want secondary safeguards like a VPN service since even Wi-Fi systems can be hacked.
Opt for Open Protocols
It’s best to choose a device with open protocols. Unlike closed, proprietary protocols, open protocols can be thoroughly and constantly vetted. The protocol’s specifications are publicly available so the developer community can continuously improve them.
Lower Data Protocols Are More Secure
Everything collected and stored by the company puts you at more risk. True, a certain amount of data must be collected for most IoT devices to work.
However, the data the company collects and holds is outside of the reach of your VPN service firewall and other protections, so make sure you know what kind of data is being collected and how it’s being used and stored.
Use Strong Passwords
You probably know that you need a robust password for your banking app, but when it comes to your vacuum, you may be tempted to pick something short and memorable.
This is especially true if you have to enter the password often for updates or access. However, when it comes to fortifying your smart home, the importance of a strong, unique password for each device can’t be overstated.
In a recent study, researchers launched over 10,1000 hacking attacks on smart devices. The “most concerning issue” they found was a camera with a weak password that allowed a hacker to access a home camera stream.
One solution is to use something easy to remember but hard to crack, known as a passphrase. For example, 1Gr8day2LIVE! is a passphrase. Notice the difference from a complex password that’s easier to break, like onegreatdaytolive.
Verify User Identity
A multi-factor authentication (MFA) ensures that in the event of an unauthorized access attempt, the intruder would need your phone, email, or an authenticator code in addition to the weak spot they found in your security.
Keep Firmware Up-To-Date
Firmware updates include patches for known vulnerabilities, so failing to update means opening your devices up for invasion.
Do you have any accounts associated with IoT devices you’re not using?
An outdated device is a weak link in your security chain, so deactivate and unplug anything you’re not actively using.
Stay Updated Through Manufacturer Notifications
Consider subscribing to manufacturers’ email updates to inform you about critical security updates or recalls. You’d pay attention if your car’s manufacturer let you know of an issue or recall, so do the same for your smart devices.
Dedicate a Separate Network to IoT Devices
A dedicated network for your IoT devices, separate from your regular gadgets like smartphones and laptops, means that if someone gets into one network, they won’t be able to get into the other.
A quality VPN service covers all your devices, whether on one or multiple networks. It’s a security catchall that encrypts all of the data for all of your devices, so there’s nowhere for hackers to infiltrate.
The most important thing to remember about securing IoT devices is that keeping hackers at bay is a constant battle. Equip your smart home ecosystem with a solid defense system.