How Safe is Your Smart Home?

A smart home gives consumers extensive access and control over numerous aspects of their home, even when they’re away from it. As such, you can use your smartphone to manage your lights and blinds. It can allow you to brew your coffee in the morning, remotely regulate your thermostat, or heat your water when you arrive home. You may receive home security camera feeds from virtually anywhere in the world, too. Consumers have embraced the concept of smart homes because of the convenience it brings to our daily lives. It’s no wonder connected home products revenue in the United States continues to grow. Based on predictions, connected home products revenue will reach 5.94B USD by 2022.

Smart Home Risks and Threats

While smart homes provide convenience and other benefits, it does not come without its drawbacks. A skilled hacker, for example, can get access to a smart home’s connected devices like what happened in October 2016. At that time, a botnet known as Mirai hacked home networked devices such as DVRs, cameras, and routers and disrupted internet services via a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Thus, bringing down major sites such as Twitter, Netflix, PayPal, BBC, CNN, and many others across the US and Europe. This scenario shows smart connected devices have become integrated into our daily lives. Therefore, it is quite important for us to learn about common smart home device threats and attacks.

  • Data and Identity Theft: Hackers target data generated or kept by smart home devices in order to steal user identities and commit fraud.
  • Device Hijacking: This refers to when hackers gain control of a smart device. These attacks are hard to detect because the hacker does not alter the device’s functionality. Moreover, it only takes one device to infect all connected smart devices in the home. For instance, a compromised thermostat can allow the hacker to access an entire network, enabling the hacker to do tasks remotely to the rest of the compromised system. For examples, unlocking a door or changing its key code to allow or restrict entry.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack: Causes websites, devices, or entire systems to become inaccessible due to a disruption in their internet connection. It floods the targeted system or device with enough traffic from the collective force of compromised smart devices to shut it down and stop it from working.
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack: An attacker spoofs communications between two systems. Thus, network traffic between the two devices passes through the attacker’s system, allowing the attacker to see all data sent between the devices, like user names, passwords, credit card numbers, and other relevant information. One such attack that made headlines a few years ago was when a was compromised, allowing hackers access to consumers’ Gmail login credentials.

Smart Home Security Tips

With the increased growth of smart homes, the impact and number of smart home attacks are also rising. Here are some security tips to help secure your smart homes:

  • Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

    Don’t use old routers nor buy used routers, as this may be compromised. Choose routers from reliable, trusted vendors. Always change the router’s default password since most routers, by default, use generic passwords, making it simple for hackers to sneak into your network and compromise your devices. Keep in mind that some routers have user access controls (ACL) that allow multiple login accounts, usually labeled “admin” and “user,” and paired with default passwords. Change the router’s login credentials, and use lengthy random characters for wireless access. Also, choose Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)2- Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as your home router’s wireless encryption scheme. Then, modify your Wi-Fi network’s (Access Point) name and password to something unidentifiable. Lastly, turn off wireless access to the management page and disable any remote management feature.

  • Manage Your Smart Device Accounts

    Once you’ve secured the Wi-Fi network, you must also protect the individual devices and services connected to it. For each smart device, you’ll need to set up an account. Don’t repeat passwords, and use two-factor authentication whenever possible. A password breach allows hackers to access all of your other accounts on which you used that same login credentials. Use a random password generator instead to create hard-to-guess codes. Better yet, use a password manager to store them for you.

  • Partition Your Network

    Network segmentation prevents the spread of attacks and isolates potential problematic devices unable to be taken offline immediately. Creating a separate network dedicated to your smart home devices can safeguard your primary home network against smart home attacks. This way, your local home network is only accessible to you and your family. Alternatively, you may set up another segment that only allows house guests to use your internet for added protection.

  • Stay Up-to-Date

    Securing your smart home devices is critical. First, ensure your devices are not missing out on important security updates and new features. Registering your smart device with the manufacturer could ensure updates get to your connected devices. In addition, make an effort to keep your devices up to date to prevent your device vulnerable to hackers exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities.

  • Disable Unnecessary Features

    Numerous connected home devices come with remote access services by default. If you don’t use these remote access features, the goal is to block as many of those possible multiple attack entry points to reduce the likelihood of being hacked.

  • Monitor Your Network

    Trend Micro offers a simple plug-and-protect home network security device to protect your smart home and connected devices from being hacked while keeping the internet safe for your kids on any device. Trend Micro Home Network Security (HNS) equips the smart home with an extra layer of protection and offers visibility into smart device security status, including threats, vulnerabilities, and suspicious behavior.

Final Thoughts

Protecting your smart home is critical. Smart homes will continuously evolve, so are the risks and threats that come with them. Armed with what you’ve just learned will help keep you, your family, and your smart home safe and secure from ever-evolving connected home risks and attacks. Also, putting additional security in place is always recommended. detects and blocks network attacks, intrusions, and web threats for all your connected devices to help ensure your smart home is safe from hackers.