Smart home gadgets have been among the most popular holiday, housewarming and any-occasion gifts for the last few years. Whether it’s an interconnected home security system, a pet camera, or a voice-activated assistant like the Amazon Echo, homeowners and renters alike love having these tech gadgets in their homes.
In fact, research has shown that homes with smart home devices sell faster and for more than those without. Additionally, renters show great interest in living in rentals that have interconnected gadgets and are willing to pay more for these units. Therefore, many landlords have been rushing to turn their properties into smart homes.
Unfortunately, many users of these devices are unaware of the safety implications that come with them. Most smart gadgets are connected to your home’s Wi-Fi, which is linked to a large network that hackers can access. With this information in mind, many smart gadget owners are wondering just how much their safety is threatened by their tech gadgets – and what can be done about it. Let’s take a closer look.
The Interconnected Worldwide Web
When you set up your home or apartment internet connection, you typically put a password on the connection. That way, neighbors and passers-by can’t steal your internet and slow down your bandwidth.
Many people believe that this simple password is enough to protect them against hacking attempts, but it’s not. It’s certainly better than a public network, but it’s still pretty easy for hackers with any level of experience to crack.
Plus, the worldwide web is aptly named because it’s completely interconnected, providing inviting access points to hackers. Charles Henderson, professional security specialist for IBM, told The NY Times that it just takes one access point to create a catalyst of problems.
“If one device gets compromised, it could be the same as allowing an attacker to plug into the entire network,” he says.
Security Products Aren’t Perfect
Consumers often fall victim to cybersecurity threats simply because they believe they’re impenetrable. Because a reputable business builds and sells these gadgets, they’re trustworthy, right?
While most companies in the smart tech sector do their best to create high-quality products, there’s no such thing as a perfect, impenetrable device. Most devices are released before they’re perfect, and the company will produce patches and updates to repair vulnerabilities along the way.
A recent cybersecurity breach is a great example of this problem. Orvibo, a Chinese-based organization that creates smart home devices and sells them globally, recently experienced a breach compromising billions of smart home devices. Billions of device owners had their records and privacy compromised as a result of a security hole. The breach revealed more than just an invasion of privacy. It indicated a larger issue of personal identity theft.
“Using the information on Orvibo's database, it would be relatively easy to build a complex picture of any given user,” wrote James Gelinas of Komando.com. “The database contains a number of telltale entries like location, username, device ID, and email addresses. So, anyone with basic knowledge of the user would be able to identify them with these bits and pieces.”
These breaches are disconcerting, but they don’t mean users should have to say goodbye to smart home devices. Instead, they should simply take a few precautions. You wouldn’t leave home without locking all the doors and windows, and the same goes for managing security devices.
Perform research on the best ways to keep your devices safe and locked down from privacy invaders and identity thefts. In the meantime, here are a few recommended measures:
- Use strong passwords and change them often.
- Apply all updates sent to your devices.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) to connect your smart devices.
- Consider biometric authentication for smart home devices.
- Remove personal information from smart home devices.
As you apply these simple steps for securing your home network, you’ll experience greater peace of mind while enjoying the luxuries of your smart gadgets.