Home Tips & Tricks The future of home living lies within our smart devices. Our lights, thermostats, security cameras, and even our coffee makers can be controlled with a simple tap on our smartphones. Smart homes provide convenience and comfort and help save on our monthly utility bills. As a smart homeowner, you’ve probably heard about the potential risks of hacking into your system, but fear not. In this article, we explore the ways hackers can break into your smart home and, more importantly, how you can prevent them. What's Inside ToggleWhat is a Smart Home?Ways Hackers Can Get Into Your Smart Home System1) Weak Passwords2) Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks3) Outdated Firmware4) Weak or Default Configuration Settings5) Lack of Network Segmentation6) Eavesdropping on IoT TrafficWhat are the Dangers of Someone Hacking into Your Smart Home?What Are the Policies that Cover the Damage Caused by Smart Home Hacking?Conclusion What is a Smart Home? A smart home, also known as a ‘connected’ home, is a residence equipped with a range of devices and appliances that can be controlled and automated remotely. And more often than not, they’re controlled by our phones. More and more people opt for the convenience of smart home. According to research, the number of smart homes is forecasted to grow and surpass the 400 million mark by 2024. These devices can include: Smart Thermostats: These allow you to control your home’s temperature remotely, optimizing energy efficiency. Smart Lighting: Enables you to adjust and automate your lighting, saving energy and enhancing security. Security Cameras: Provide real-time monitoring and remote access to footage for enhanced safety. Smart Door Locks: These allow you to lock and unlock your doors remotely, providing convenience and security. Entertainment Systems: This can be controlled from your smartphone, creating an immersive home theater experience. Kitchen Appliances: Certain kitchen appliances can be controlled and programmed to make cooking easier and smoother. The idea behind a smart home is to enhance convenience, energy efficiency, and security. With the help of smartphones, voice commands, or automated schedules, homeowners can manage and monitor their smart devices from anywhere, making daily tasks more manageable and efficient. The downside is this convenience also introduces new security considerations, as these devices are connected to the internet and can be vulnerable to hacking if not adequately protected. In the following sections, we explore how smart homes can be hacked and how to secure them from potential threats and intrusions. Ways Hackers Can Get Into Your Smart Home System 1) Weak Passwords Your smart home is only as secure as your weakest link, and often, that link is a weak password. Many homeowners make the mistake of using simple passwords like “mysmarthome” or “12345678.” These easily guessable combinations open the door to potential intruders. To protect your smart system, it’s better to create complex passwords with a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters–and consider using a password manager to keep them safe. Moreover, avoid using easily guessable information in your passwords, such as common words, names, or birthdays. 2) Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Your Wi-Fi network works in tandem with your smart home, so if it’s not properly secured, hackers can easily access your devices and wreak mayhem. Make sure your network is set up with a strong password (see the previous section), and consider using a separate network for your smart devices (keeping them apart from your personal and work devices) It’ll make it harder for intruders to breach your security. In addition to this, regularly check for any unauthorized devices connected to your Wi-Fi network. Many routers allow you to view connected devices to identify and remove unfamiliar or suspicious entries quickly. This approach helps ensure that your smart home remains a fortress of security, minimizing the chances of unauthorized access. 3) Outdated Firmware Smart home devices receive updates for a reason–they patch security vulnerabilities. If you neglect these updates, your devices become easy targets. To avoid this, regularly check for and install firmware updates for all your smart devices. If a device is no longer updated by the manufacturer, it might be best to replace it with a more secure alternative. Furthermore, don’t forget to regularly back up the settings and configurations of your smart devices. In case an update causes unexpected issues, having a backup can help you restore your devices to their previous state. This proactive measure ensures you can enjoy updated security without losing your personalized settings. 4) Weak or Default Configuration Settings Most smart devices come with default settings that may not be the most secure. This includes default usernames and passwords, which hackers can easily exploit, as we’ve mentioned before. Here are some things you can do: Always change default credentials and configure your devices to enhance security. Disable unnecessary features and services, limiting the potential entry points for attackers. Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP): UPnP is a standard that lets network devices automatically find, communicate with and control each other. UPnP can create vulnerabilities by allowing devices to automatically open ports in your router. Disable this feature if it’s not necessary for your devices. Regularly review permissions: Review the permissions granted to your smart devices and apps. Revoke any unnecessary permissions, limiting the data they can access. By proactively addressing these security measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access and maintain the integrity of your smart home. 5) Lack of Network Segmentation Network segmentation is like having different layers of security for your smart home. By segmenting your network, you can isolate vulnerable devices from critical ones. For instance, keep your security cameras on a separate network from your smart locks. This way, even if one layer is breached, your entire smart home won’t be compromised. It’s important to label and monitor each network carefully when implementing network segmentation. You can also name them according to the types of devices they host, like “Smart Lock Network” or “Security Camera Network.” This way, you can easily identify any suspicious activities and take prompt action, further fortifying your smart home’s security. 6) Eavesdropping on IoT Traffic The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a network of interrelated devices that connect and exchange data with other IoT devices and the cloud. See alsoHighs and Lows of Securing Love via Social MediaRoman.T·November 24, 2023 Hackers may intercept data transmitted between your smart devices and your hub. To safeguard against this, ensure your IoT traffic is encrypted. A VPN is a great solution to secure data being sent and received by the variety of devices that form the “Internet of Things”, and you can even control it with your mobile phone. If you’re wondering, “what is VPN on my iPhone doing?” the answer is short: it’s protecting your connection from cyber criminals. This is the same kind of protection you can use in your smart home. Most modern devices and hubs support secure communication protocols, so use them to keep your data private and out of the reach of eavesdroppers. This is what you can do: Enable Device Encryption: Encrypt your smart device data. Use Secure Protocols: Employ secure communication protocols. Keep Devices Updated: Regularly update firmware for enhanced security. Secure Wi-Fi Password: Use a strong Wi-Fi password to safeguard IoT traffic. What are the Dangers of Someone Hacking into Your Smart Home? The convenience and automation provided by a smart home are undeniable, but they come with inherent risks when not adequately protected. Here are some of the key risks and consequences: Privacy Invasion: Hackers can gain access to your security cameras and surveillance systems, giving them an intrusive view into your personal life. This invasion of privacy can be detrimental and extremely unnerving. Burglary & Unauthorized Access: If hackers breach your smart locks or alarm systems, they could potentially unlock doors or disable security measures, leading to physical breaches and theft. Identity Theft: Smart devices often store personal information, which can be exploited by hackers for identity theft, fraudulent activities, or unauthorized access to your accounts. Data Leaks: Personal data, such as your routines, schedules, and even voice recordings, can be stolen and misused and can be used for targeted advertisements, scams, or other malicious purposes. Financial Loss: Unauthorized access to your smart home system can result in financial losses, including fraudulent purchases, unauthorized transactions, or ransom demands. By understanding the potential dangers, you can take proactive steps to secure your smart home and protect your privacy, security, and peace of mind. What Are the Policies that Cover the Damage Caused by Smart Home Hacking? The insurance policies that can help cushion the potential financial and personal fallout of being hacked. Here are some key insurance policies to consider: Homeowners: Many homeowner’s policies cover damages from theft and vandalism. If a hacker gains access to your smart home and causes physical damage or theft, your homeowner’s insurance might help cover these losses. Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity insurance, also known as cyber insurance or data breach insurance, is designed to protect against losses from cyberattacks. This type of insurance can provide coverage for legal and public relations costs, data recovery, and other financial losses. Identity Theft: If a hacker breaches your smart home and steals your personal information, identity theft insurance can help cover the costs of restoring your identity, including legal fees, credit monitoring, and the time and effort spent on the recovery process. It’s important to note that the coverage and terms of these insurance policies can vary widely, so carefully read the policy documents and ask your provider questions if you’re unsure of anything. Additionally, be sure that your insurance policies are up-to-date and provide all required coverage for the assets within your smart home. In a breach, swift and informed action can help lessen the financial impact and provide aid during the recovery process. Conclusion Your smart home should be a haven of convenience and security, not a playground for hackers. Be sure to keep software up to date, create passwords that hackers cannot guess, install the necessary firmware, and get the relevant insurance. Once you’ve done this, hackers are up against it when trying to get hold of your data. Stay safe and enjoy the peace of mind of a well-protected smart home.