With all These Smart Appliances, Here's What You Need to Know


Smart home appliance devices are in, but can they keep hackers out? The Internet of Things (IoT) is a dynamic market, with over 12 billion smart devices in use, a number expected to nearly triple in the next three years. These devices exist to make our lives easier, from smart bulbs that can be turned on or off using a remote app to televisions and DVRs connected to the Internet.

A recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack was attributed to hackers targeting vulnerabilities in security cameras and DVRs. This attack effectively shut down large parts of the Internet. By targeting an internet infrastructure company though these vulnerable IoT devices, the attack brought down large portal sites such as Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, and Reddit.

Recent reports also have demonstrated how smart devices can pose a risk inside the home. From smart TVs that can eavesdrop on conversations in the room when the TV appears to be turned off to security system footage that can be intercepted and watched in real time, our smart devices can be a risk to our personal privacy as well as potentially being a dark conduit to the Internet.

The challenge of keeping these devices secure is immense, and manufacturing is distributed through so many companies throughout the world that finding a standard solution for security is a moving target.

Security experts recommend some basic steps which will avert some of the risk posed by smart devices, allowing them to become more welcome and beneficial guests in our homes again.

Many smart devices ship with a default password. If this default password isn't changed, a smart device can be vulnerable because default passwords are much easier to crack, with many even published on circulated lists. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to change the default password. Passwords with mixed capitalization, numbers, and punctuation are much more difficult to crack than simple dictionary words or names.

An additional router dedicated specifically to your smart devices can create a firewall between your smart devices and your computers, tablets, and smartphones. This step can help keep your personal data separate from your smart devices.

Keeping your smart device firmware updated regularly ensures that any security patches supplied by the manufacturer are applied promptly. If your device supports automatic updating, you may wish to enable this feature.

Smart devices will continue to be a growing part of our lives. Matching their utility with equal amounts of security will be an ongoing challenge because the software or firmware driving smart devices varies so greatly. There is no single solution. There are, however, ways to make smart devices safer to have in our home, powering our lives.

Speak with us in person, and we can help you on your journey to living a more secure, productive and smart life.