A Few Tips To Make Your Smart Home Network More Secure

29th January, 2019

If you’re one of those people that love geeking out over stuff like smart house technology, then you should probably take a sneak peek into its darker side as well.

We don’t really mean to put you off. Especially not considering how home automation is our bread and butter.

However, the fact remains that smart homes with IoT devices such as thermostats and ACs and ovens etc can be programmed from just about anywhere. For instance, you could be running late for work. All you gotta do is issue a voice command that shuts off the lights, locks all the doors and secures the perimeter! And all this is thanks to a lil ol’ technology we know as “IoT”.

“IoT” is an acronym for the “Internet of Things.” It’s basically a compilation of any and every gadget that manages to establish Internet connectivity to transmit or receive data. Which is applicable to a smart home as well.

So all those Internet-connected gizmos that your home can’t do without; including TVs, security cameras, smart locks, smart lights, gaming consoles, motion sensors, smart thermostats etc have two sides: Convenience, and caution.

And that, precisely why, is the real reasoning behind amping up security and defense measures. All in the effort to put in place a solid security plan for your home. 

As with all connected smart devices, there’s always the possibility of a cyber attack, where you’ve got to deal with information leaks. Most smart home buyers tend to implicitly trust the brand they’ve chosen. Which is all well and good if you’ve done your own research as well.

While all smart homes come equipped with the latest security tech, our advice would be to make sure you’ve taken some steps of your own to better secure your home.

We’ve prepared a list of steps you need to follow the minute you’ve got your smart home system set up.

A few common ways of securing your smart home

Name the router

While we know it’s super easy (and super lazy) to just go ahead with the manufacturer’s given name, please don’t do it. The manufacturing identity is also an indicator of both the make as well as the model. Go in for some unusual, unorthodox names – ones that do not give away anything about you.

With Wifi it’s best to be wary and wise

When you’ve got a gazillion and one devices connected to your home network, it can quickly turn into your worst nightmare. One whiff and you’ve got hackers on your tail. Best bet? Secure your Wifi. You do not have to be a computer whizz to set up basic security measures.  For example, you have most of the ISPs providing an app or web portal for users to monitor and adjust device settings such as the network ID or the encryption levels. This gives you an insight into what goes on with your home network.

Crank up the WiFi encryption

When setting up your router, it’s always preferable to go in for a stronger encryption method such as WPA2. This way you’ve got both your network and communications safe and steady.

Go the Guest network way

Always, always keep your WiFi account private. Whoever needs to access your WiFi, can do so from an entirely separate network with no tie-ins with your IoT devices.

With usernames and passwords, it’s off with the old and in with the new

We get not changing the router name but the password? A big no-no. Any hacker on the look-out for a weak link will pounce the minute he/she gets a chance. And not changing your default password is equivalent to handing them the key. Most cyber criminals tend to move on the minute they encounter even the most basic of security precautions. Which is why you must never make it easy for them.

With WiFi networks and device accounts, unusual is a good way to go

We strongly recommend avoiding the use of passwords that include everyday words or phrases or are just so easy to guess, that you get a “B -” for your effort. Go in for some quirky yet complex passwords that include a bit of everything – from letters to numbers to symbols. And no, “xxsdfghhj8793” does not count unless you’ve got the memory of an elephant!

Keep tabs on your device settings

Most smart home devices show up with certain default settings that allow better user acclimatization. However, most often than not, those very same settings are usually set up to favor the manufacturer over the buyer. For example, an Amazon assistant will typically come with an automatically operable voice-activated purchasing function. Which is when you need to change them because you can never be too sure about their usefulness in the long run.

Always patch your devices

Most households tend to have multiple devices connected to the network at once. It’s crucial that you are in the loop about which ones you’ve got connected at the moment. From there, it’s all about making sure they run on the latest, updated software.

Make the switch from “always on” to “sometimes off’

There have been quite a few experiments that have proven just how easy it is to take control of voice assistants through signal transmission via white noise. And all this with the owners remaining clueless. Which is why every smart homeowner should contemplate turning off “listening” or disabling the assistant’s prowess at certain times. You do not want sensitive information or confidential conversations being made public.

Don’t keep features you don’t need

With IoT devices, connectivity forms the bedrock. Most of them are rigged out with a wide range of services, often enabled by default. Our advice: If you’ve got no need for it, make sure you’ve disabled it.

Always maintain an updated software

Most of us have a tendency of putting off our software updates. But when it comes to smart homes, you need to absolutely install an update the minute you receive a notification. Even mobile updates are crucial because most smart devices are operable via your phone. So the next time your device pings with an update notification, make sure you download and apply it immediately.

Undertake a routine survey of all your existing IoT devices

Most often than not, all devices come with an expiration date. Your lock system can become outmoded in a matter of months. Or the security cameras could be approaching the age of retirement. Whatever the case, make sure you carry out a thorough review of all your devices. This way you even get to notice if there’s any need for newer, better models with far stronger security.

Always remember: 2 is a magical number when it comes to security

Authentication is key. Make sure all your devices operate on the principle of the “two-factor authentication.” This lends even more security to the ones that already operate from your home network.

A public wireless network is an absolute no-no

While it’s great that you get to connect to your home IoT devices from anywhere and everywhere, it’s advisable that you don’t do so over a public WiFi network. If you do happen to be making use of public WiFi, let’s say at your local store right around the corner, make sure you use a VPN.

Be on the lookout for outages

While it’s all well and good that you’ve got all the latest gadgets and gizmos making your life easier, you also need to make sure they are both safe and secure. Having a hardware outage can put your home security at risk.

And there you have it. A few simple ways of ensuring both functionality and security.

There’s no doubt in our minds that more and more devices are coming our way and will make their places firmly within our homes. Convenience? Check. Comfort? Check. Caution? It’s up to you.

Your devices are always going to remain vulnerable. Not unless there’s been some major discovery that lets you exercise complete control over home security. Which is why you need to decide how safe and secure you want your home to be. The sooner you begin, the better it is.

With smart homes, you always have a hand in the way your homes are secured. All you need to do is to follow a few simple steps and you are good to go!

 

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