One universal truth about smart homes is that they’re incredibly cool and give you a lot of possibilities. And even though this is something people undoubtedly want to take advantage of, just like with any other connected device, security concerns arise.
This is especially true when you’re looking at smart home security systems. We’ve all seen the movies where hackers gain access to smart home devices, and even though they can’t do too much physical harm, they could gain access to sensitive information that could be used against you.
So, with all this being said, if you’re still looking to invest in a home security system, how secure are they, and is it easy for someone to access them? The short answer is “very secure, impossible to access”, but you aren’t here for the short answer, so read on.
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What Are the Main Concerns?
With IoT-based devices growing rapidly in popularity, it’s hard for security measures to keep up with them. If you’ve got a lot of smart home devices, this could have very serious consequences. Imagine what could happen if a hacker was to get control of your smart thermostat? They could regulate your temperature until you pay a ransom, and this is actually a real possibility. Apart from that, if your home is equipped with smart locks where everything is connected to your smartphone through the internet, the hacker can easily lock and unlock the doors, Garage of your home. This sounds really scary.
Some of the main concerns in this regard include the lack of secure update mechanisms, insecure network services, storage, and data transfer, as well as the lack of secure default settings and lack of device management.
Secure Smart Home Devices
Here are a few things you should take care of before installing any smart home devices in your home.
Devices with Encryption Algorithms
The first line of defense for smart home devices that make use of IoT technologies is the IoT encryption standards. There are a few that are pretty common, and they’ve been doing a stellar job at keeping things secure so far.
RSA encryption is one of them, and it makes use of public-key encryption technology. It allows a user to send encrypted information without the need of telling the recipient the code previously. Since this is public-key encryption, you can openly share the public key. But decrypting that data is only possible with another private key. Only the designated recipient has that private key.
Another one is the triple data encryption standard, which gives each block of data three passes. The larger key length gives it a bit more security, and even though as an algorithm it’s now obsolete, some IoT products still rely on it due to the flexibility and compatibility it provides. It thrives in protecting against a brute force attack.
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AES is an algorithm that concentrates on a single data block, re-encrypting it anywhere from ten to fourteen times, depending on the length of the key. AES is popular because it’s elegant and efficient, and because it meets both HIPAA data protection requirements and FINRA standards for the protection of financial records.
While these are far from the only encryption algorithms that you’ll come across in IoT devices, they’re a good example of just how safe the entire technology is. You might’ve seen hackers in the movies intercepting the signal and gaining access to one device through another, but with all this protection in place, that’s close to impossible.
What Can You Do?
Even though, as you can see, the hardware itself is rather secure, there is still something that you could be doing in order to keep things as secure as possible. One major thing is to make sure your home network is as secure as possible. Your router and network are running the show, and someone gaining access to them could potentially mean they can control your smart home.
To prevent this, make sure you change your network’s default settings. Change the password for the wireless network, but also change the default username and password for your router. This way, even if a device connects to your network, they won’t be able to connect to your router. Use unique passwords for both, and if possible, use two-factor authentication as well.
To add to this, make sure no unknown devices are connected to your network. If you open your router’s settings, you’ll be able to see a list of all devices that are connected to the network and disconnect some of them if you don’t know them. Only leave devices that you know and trust here.
And last but not least, if a device doesn’t explicitly need internet access to function, don’t give it internet access. These devices are usually the least secure and are the weak link in your smart home setup. Even though, as we mentioned, it’s close to impossible for someone to gain access to your smart home, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
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Smart Home Security: Final Words
Anything on the internet is vulnerable to attack but using precautions and encrypted hardware, we can still safeguard the smart home devices from any potential attack. It is always suggested not to share any kind of sensitive information like passwords and device permission. If you think any device is asking for unnecessary information, you can simply deny it. Also, keep your hardware and software updated. Outdated software is vulnerable to attacks because the team behind the security is no more working on the security of an outdated version of the software.
Smart Home devices are evolving and people are unaware of the security of their home devices. Proper guidance is always required to tackle new technology.