How to Protect Your Smart Home Against Cyber Crime

We recently investigated a case involving 'smart home' devices that were breached by an unknown source. During this investigation, we realized how simple it was for unwanted individuals to gain access to home electronics that are connected to the internet, including doorbells, baby monitors, refrigerators, lights, and even washers and dryers. Because we learned a lot during this investigation, we decided to write this post. We concluded that a former spouse hired someone to hack their ex's home in order to wreak havoc on his/her 'smart devices'. Even though many of these tips are basic and straight forward, they remain crucial in keeping your smart homes safe and secure.

The so-called 'internet of things' is revolutionizing the modern home. As well as improving the way homeowners can enjoy music and entertainment, smart homes offer automated energy and lighting systems and other practical benefits. Having home appliances and other devices connected to the Internet makes a home more efficient, but it can expose you to cyber crime.

Having your refrigerator hacked by cyber criminals may not be of great concern, but there can be serious implications if devices in your home aren't secure. Hackers may exploit security vulnerabilities of one appliance and use it as a gateway to gain access to others. Cyber criminals taking control of home security systems or installing spyware on a camera are examples of the threats.

The following tips will help to keep your smart home secure:

1) Regularly change passwords on all devices

Experts in cyber crime agree that passwords are one of the best ways to protect yourself on the internet. Many smart devices are set up with a default password, and this makes them vulnerable to hackers. Change the passwords on all the devices in your smart home to a complex combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Don't be tempted to use the same password for several gadgets, and avoid using names or passwords a criminal could easily guess.


2) Separate your Wi-Fi networks

Modern routers allow you to set up more than one network in your home. This means you can keep your smart devices on a separate network from computers, tablets, and smartphones. If the hackers gain access to your smart lights or entertainment system, they won't be able to access a device you may use for online banking.


3) Run regular updates

Technology manufacturers release regular updates for their devices. These are sometimes to improve the functionality for the user but are often updates to improve the security of their devices. Hackers are constantly looking for loopholes and ways to defeat software protections, and updates are released to keep ahead of this activity. Check that it's possible to update software and firmware before buying a smart device.


4) Understand the scale of cyber crime

A common mistake is to assume that cyber criminals won't view you as a worthy target. Cyber crime has become big business in recent years, and it's rarely personal. Groups of hackers combine resources to attack thousands of devices at a time, and they don't care whose home they are in. You don't have to be a wealthy celebrity to be the victim of cyber crime. Make sure all members of your family understand that there are risks to connecting devices in your home to the internet.


5) Install software protection where possible

Many devices in a smart home can be controlled by apps and software designed for computers and smartphones. This can be very convenient, but it also opens another loophole for hackers. All computers, tablet devices and smartphones in your home should have antivirus and malware protection installed. If a potentially harmful app is downloaded to one of your devices, the security software should prevent it causing any harm.

New innovations in technology mean that the homes of the future will be packed with connected devices. This is an exciting new frontier, but you must be aware of the risks and take steps to protect your family from cyber criminals.


Adam Quirk

Adam Quirk is a licensed private investigator, blog writer and principal owner of Stealth Advise.