How secure are smart home devices?
Are you sure that your home is protected in the way that you think? Sure, you can secure it with modern locks or an alarm system to protect yourself from robbers who want to steal your money or furniture, but what about those who are looking at your home as a means of stealing your privacy?
As the number of smart electronic devices we use every day increases, we have to make sure that the personal information that is recorded by these devices is safe.
So let’s talk about home security and how to protect yourself from those that are looking for ways to hack your smart devices.
Which smart devices can be hacked?
Almost every smart system used with modern devices is potentially dangerous as hackers know hundreds of ways to obtain remote access to them. But still, some devices seem too ordinary and primitive to be hacked. Perhaps a robot vacuum cleaner or a smart baby monitor. But there are more sophisticated technologies like a smart TV or smart house security system. They're all vulnerable since they're connected to the internet and are frequently part of your home WiFi network. Recent research showed that every one of them has several serious security flaws.
What are the risks?
Many experts note that when it comes to smart home devices, you should be thinking about ‘when’ they will be hacked, not 'if,' because many are notoriously easy to hack and provide no protection whatsoever. Scientists from the European watchdog Eurovomsumers examined 16 regularly used devices from a variety of manufacturers and discovered 54 vulnerabilities that exposed consumers to hacker attacks, with potential implications ranging from security system deactivation to personal data theft.
According to the results of research, hackers can gain access to highly sensitive information such as banking credentials or even utilise many linked devices to stage enormous distributed denial of service (DDOS) operations, which allows them to ruin banking or other service networks.
Whenever most internet users realise the vulnerabilities associated with the usage of computers connected to the Internet, many people still do not pay enough attention to the fact that their home smart devices also present the same danger. As all home devices are commonly connected to the same Wi-Fi network, it gives an opportunity for hackers to get access to all domestic technologies at the same time.
One of the most significant dangers that are presented by smart home devices is the potential for a ‘deauthentication attack’, in which a hacker orders the device to disconnect from the house WiFi. It may cause the blocking of systems and devices, which won’t be able to respond to users’ requests as a result. It was also discovered that some apps designed for home appliances are able to transfer unencrypted data. It means that if hackers break into their system, they’ll gain access to the owner's personal information, such as WiFi passwords or even listen to what happens around the device if it’s equipped with a microphone. A stolen WiFi password may provide hackers access to phones or computers connected to this network and lead to an eventual data leak.
Due to the gaps in security systems, smart devices often have flaws that make them vulnerable to attack. Designers of these devices focus on the comfort of exploitation and multifunctionality of their products, but not on their security. But now, when almost everything from house alarms to refrigerators can be hacked, it becomes a paramount point.
Recent research that took place in America and Europe has shown that about a half of interviewees use smart home devices, but most of them do nothing to protect themselves from being compromised. Thus, even though people know about the risks, they still do nothing to minimise them. One of the possible reasons for such behaviour is the lack of knowledge and accessible information about how to make the usage of smart home devices secure.
How can you secure your home devices?
Of course, the most basic way to protect yourself from the hacking of your smart home devices is just not to use them and replace them with less functional but safer options. But what if you can’t go without such a pleasure? Well, Euroconsumers — one of the most well-known private organisations for consumers — developed a list of recommendations that can help people who want to maintain their privacy while using smart devices:
1. Use an ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi to connect your devices to the network where possible;
2. Create strong multilayered passwords for your devices and Wi-Fi;
3. After installing your WiFi network, always change the default name;
4. Always keep your devices up-to-date and switch them off if you’re not using them at a certain moment;
5. When you use a device for the first time, always finish the setup procedure;
6. Do not buy cheap devices with a low level of protection.
When we’re talking about smart devices, we’re not just talking about full smart house systems such as alarms. Rather, we’re talking about smart appliances such as TVs, doorbell systems, vacuum cleaners, and other common household things. Using them makes our lives more comfortable and saves time and energy. However, they each have their own flaws, and many are vulnerable when it comes to hacking. So, consumers should pay attention to this point of using smart devices and consider all possible ways to protect their privacy without refusing to exploit such useful appliances. If you use one of these devices, try to get more information regarding what manufacturers pay more attention to regarding the security of their goods. Moreover, make sure to protect your own devices from hacking. It won’t take a lot of time or effort, but it will save your sensitive data and protect you from being compromised.