Secure Your Home Automation Systems from Hacking

Home automation is an emerging technology that is rapidly changing the landscape of our home-owning experience. Not just smart-lighting and smart-thermostats, these technologies are connected – to each other, to your refrigerator, to your coffee maker – through the Internet of Things. The convenience, intuitiveness, and productivity that this automation and interconnectivity brings to our lives is certainly immense. However, where there is Internet, there are (or should be!) concerns about security.

 

Hacking Home Automation

You may think of hacking as something that only occurs in the dark corners of the Internet. This is not the case. Smart devices, from our phones to our watches to our vehicles, are becoming prime targets for exploitation and snooping by hackers. Many homeowners who possess home automation features such as Nest, Amazon Echo, or Google Home are unaware how little security their systems may actually be providing. It’s one thing to have your music playlist surreptitiously downloaded, and another altogether when your home’s digital smart-locks can be accessed by an unknown intruder.

Of course, all of this is not to say that home automation should be avoided. Like any new technology, it simply needs to be used with the proper caution given to the associated risks. In the same way that we developed the seat belt, airbags, and crumple zones to make our automobiles safer, home automation comes with its own set of tools and tips to ensure its security.

 

Staying Safe at Home

As our devices and homes make their way into the IoT network, and onto the Internet itself, they become susceptible to the same kinds of intrusions and illnesses that our computers have been for decades (e.g., malware, phishing, hacking, etc). There is a lot you can do with just a little time and effort to prevent such occurrences from happening to you in the first place, and shut them down if they are:

  • Use strong passwords, change them regularly, and always keep them to yourself

  • Enable multi-factor authentication for all smart-devices

  • Keep all devices and software regularly updated

  • Ensure your home network is encrypted and protected

  • Don’t use your devices on public WiFi

  • Install malware and virus protection on all of your devices

  • Be extremely wary of increasingly complex phishing scams

This may seem like a long list, but many of the items on it are very easy. Staying vigilant and always keeping security up-to-date are key, and anyone can do this. The likelihood of your home or devices being the target of cyber-crime or hacking becomes considerably lower by following these guidelines.

 

Passwords and 2-factor Authentication

These days, a password isn’t enough. With the sophistication of phishing scams and the power of modern computer-cracking software, a determined hacker can bypass nearly any password protection. Adding a second layer of security, called 2-factor authentication, makes things enormously safer. There are many types of secondary authentication. These can be locked to your device (e.g., SMS codes), or they can be biometric (e.g., fingerprint, iris scan).

 

Software

Malware and virus protection on any devices that has that option is a good idea to help you keep your home secure from unwanted intrusion. Sometimes your computer, laptop, phone, or tablet is the easiest way to get through to your home automation devices because it connects to outside sources before returning home and reconnecting to your internal network. A virus or piece of malware on one of these can thus be transferred to your home. Keeping all devices equipped with the latest software updates can further help to prevent this, as known exploits and bugs that are susceptible to malware are regularly being fixed by software teams.

 

Network Security

Make sure your home network is secure, private, and encrypted. If at all possible, have password protection and 2-factor authentication required for home network connection. Avoid connecting to public WiFi with any device that you regularly use at home. This is yet another avenue for an intruder to gain access to your home automation system, through your smartphone or other device that you carry with you.

 

Ask the Experts

All in all, home automation services have provided us with a wealth of new, convenient ways to live more comfortably and more efficiently in our homes. Automatic lighting that won’t be left on, home heating that adjusts to your comfort and saves you money on your energy bill, smart-locks that can be locked and unlocked remotely – these are all part of the new, modern home. These advances, however, also come with new, modern risks. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we simply have to adapt to these risks and apply new levels of safety and security to our lives.

If you have questions about the safety and security of your connected home or network, contact us for more information! Our team at BrickHouse Security would love to answer your questions.

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