How to Secure Your Smart Home and IoT Devices

The number of smart home and office devices is growing. But the irony is that your connected security cam might be as hackable as the average smartphone. More and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices hit the market and enter our homes. However, many people do not realize that these are largely unsecured devices. Connecting devices for powering a smart home is not a bad idea, nor are these devices bringing any dangers per se. But smart IoT devices are connected devices and our home and office networks are prone to “hacking” of all sorts. So, securing your smart devices is the first step toward having a secure smart home or office, your security cam including.

How to Secure Your Smart Home and IoT Devices

Why Should You Secure Your IoT Network

The market for connected devices offers numerous examples of IoT machines that have old-fashioned firmware unable to meet the current cyber-security demands. We also have gadgets that use outdated communication protocols and built-in means of communication that no one supports already.

On the other side are devices that are just unfinished. That’s mainly their makers have decided to shorten the time-to-market cycle to a bare minimum. And consumers are damn right not to trust their smart devices too much.Smart Home Statistics

Any type of connected device can fall into this category. That includes temperature sensors, gas and water leak detectors, as well as video monitoring equipment. But it all starts with your network. Nobody can remotely hack a device that is not connected to another device and to the outside world.

Secure Your Smart Home and IoT Devices – The How

So, let’s move to the actual measures you can take to secure a smart connected home or office.

1. Secure Your Main Network and Create Multiple Networks

Multiple NetworksA vulnerability or a backdoor in only one of your IoT devices opens the door for compromising your entire network. Keeping your main office or home network separate from IoT devices may sound paranoid, I know. But, to be honest, most cyber-security experts recommend this type of action.

You do not need those devices connecting to the network on which your credit card data and login credentials reside. A separate network for managing IoT devices will do the work without putting at risk the network where you store sensitive data.

You can even create multiple networks to control a specific device or group of devices, markedly increasing the overall security of your connections.

This, of course, means securing your Wi-Fi routers in the first place. You need to pay special attention to the security of Wi-Fi routers that support separate networks for managing IoT devices.

2. Disable UPnP on All IoT Devices

UPnPIt is ridiculous that you need to switch off a usable functionality of a connected device. Still, the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) protocol is responsible for a good number of successful network penetrations.

The UPnP protocol is intended for enabling your devices to open the required ports to connect to the Internet automatically. As useful as plug-and-play functionality might be, devices with UPnP enabled are most vulnerable to hacking attacks.

The protocol’s default setting is to trust anyone on a network, which makes it a poor choice for a secure networked device.

3. Update Firmware Regularly

Update FirmwareKeeping your software apps up to date and patched is out of the question if you want a secure network in place. But you need to update your firmware, too.

Updating firmware, or software that is embedded into any connected devices by the manufacturer, is a bit more challenging as there are usually no prompts to patch outdated firmware. Hence, you need to check if the firmware is up to date manually from time to time. 

The bigger problem is that firmware on some IoT devices is faulty by design, and there is no way to patch it effectively. So, select carefully the devices you purchase for your smart home or office.

4. Do Not Use Default Device Passwords

Password LogoThe first line of defense for any network is a password. Many smart devices come with a default password like four zeroes, while others have a randomly generated passcode printed on the bottom cover.

Do not use any of these preset passwords if you are to have a secure connection. Default passcodes are well known to anyone with little to no hacking skills, while passcodes printed on a device are up for grabs for anyone with physical access to the device.

For instance, some Wi-Fi routers have a unique passcode printed on their bottom side, but anyone who has access to your home or office can easily read the passcode and get access to the router. Change any default passwords as soon as you connect a device to your network and set a unique password for each and every IoT device.

5. Check Cloud Services

Every smart device that requires connection to the Internet to function is a potential weak point. An IoT gadget that uses cloud-based service to operate properly may, in turn, leak data, or one can attack it through penetrating this same cloud service.

Check all of your connected devices that sync with an online service to use an encrypted connection through secure communication protocols.

Actually, it is best if your smart devices communicate through an encrypted connection even within your home and office network.

Secure Your Smart Home and IoT Devices – Concluding Words

In general, you don’t have to be paranoid about your connected home. However, you should be aware that a tiny device can do a lot of damage in terms of your privacy. One as simple as a temperature or humidity sensor could turn into a gate to your home network. Consumers tend to undermine the security problems such a simple device may cause, but truth is that a penetrator can use an otherwise unsophisticated gadget to take over control of crucial systems such as a home security alarm or access control hub at the office.

Also, be careful with IoT devices and connected systems you can control remotely, via a mobile application, for instance. They will be as secure as your phone is, which might be a problem given the current state of security of mobile operating systems. Now, tell me. Did this guide help you out with your problem? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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