As technology becomes more advanced, so, too, do homes. Nowadays, more and more
homes are being converted to “smart” homes, houses that take advantage of IoT
devices, such as smart assistants, smart lighting, and vice versa.
On the surface, this is a good thing, but what could be so wrong with a home using
technology to improve people’s lives living inside it? Well, while there is nothing wrong
with using smart devices to create a smart home, there are problems that smart homes
suffer from that are unique.
For example, a couple based in Milwaukee had their entire Nest ecosystem hacked.
The hackers then used their devices to scare the couple by playing loud music, talking
to the couple through their Nest cameras, and messing with their AC.
As unfortunate as it is to say, smart homes are anything but secure. However, that
doesn’t mean you can’t turn your home into one. But there are a few things you should
know, including the threats your home will be facing and how you can protect yourself.
Cyber-Threats Targeting Smart Homes & How Homeowners Can Secure Their Homes
Not many people view their network as a security vulnerability. When homeowners look
at their gateway/modem sitting on their desks, all they see is a device that’s giving them
internet. However, an unsecured network can lead to a breach of privacy.
When surfing the Internet from home, it’s not uncommon for corporations and websites
to track your data, and this can even include reading your IP address. What’s worse is
that if you leave your network unsecured and unencrypted, a hacker could make their
way into your network, start stealing your data, and even mess with your home like the
To recap, an unsecured, unencrypted network opens you up to a privacy breach and
cyberattacks. So what can you do? First, you should encrypt your network, and you can
do so by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
The job of a VPN router is to encrypt your network and the data your devices send out
from your network. Furthermore, a VPN anonymizes your presence online, going as far
as to hide your IP address from others.
This essentially prevents hackers and cybercriminals from tracking your movements,
stealing your data, and entering your network without your permission.
Apps Being Granted Permissions
There’s an app for everything, especially when it comes to smart homes. So whether
you’re using a smart fridge, smart thermostat, or even a smart toaster, there is probably
an app that lets you control the device from your phone.
This isn’t bad. In fact, using your phone to control a device is sometimes easier than
having to get up and use whatever screen or buttons is supplied on the device.
However, things can get out of hand really quickly if you give permissions to the wrong
Take Philips Hue, for example, which uses an app that connects to the Hue control unit
in a home. For your device to get access to the Hue system, you would need to press a
button on the control unit and sync your device to it.
However, there is one problem: the syncing can be activated by any program that has
been granted access to the Hue program. Meaning, that if you had a malicious third-
party app installed on your device and you gave it permission to access the Hue app, it
could begin the syncing process whenever it wanted, opening the possibility more
devices could connect to the system, and then your network.
The best way to prevent this is by vetting the apps you download onto your device. And
the apps that you do download, carefully go over the permissions you are granting to
them before accepting. Even the most friendly-looking apps could be combing your
device for data and trying to gain access to your network through your smart devices.
Security Vulnerabilities in IoT Devices
Every smart device you own can be considered an IoT device, a device that is
connected to the Internet (in simple terms). However, a problem IoT devices have been
facing for years now is their lack of proper security.
Back in early April, nine security vulnerabilities were found regarding IoT devices. These
nine vulnerabilities put an estimated 100 million IoT devices at risk of cyber-attacks.
The truth is, smart devices have a long way to go when it comes to security. So the best
thing you can do on that front is frequently update all of your smart devices. After all,
you don’t want to miss out on a necessary security patch.
With more and more homes officially converting into smart homes, homeowners will
need to take their cybersecurity more seriously. And that includes encrypting your home
network, updating your devices, and being careful about the apps you download.