The idea of the smart home is still largely a fantasy for many people. Without having to do a thing, we pictured homes with voice-activated controls for the lighting, climate, and other features. This dream is coming true as smart devices are used more frequently.
However, this convenience comes with new risks because these devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks and privacy violations. Managing the risks associated with using these appliances in your home can be challenging. Here are some tips for maintaining your home network’s security and privacy.
What Are the Dangers of Using Smart Devices at Home?
Smart devices pose a security and privacy risk, and they can be used to hack into your home network, just like any other internet-connected device. Particularly relevant are gadgets that come pre-installed with outdated firmware with several security holes. Many times, undiscovered and unfixed security flaws exist in these early versions of software.
Ways To Limit Smart Devices’ Access To Your Home Network
Smart devices pose a serious privacy risk because they frequently gather and store personal data such as usage patterns, addresses, Wi-Fi network credentials, and even video and audio recordings if they have a microphone or camera.
It should always feel safe and cosy to be in your own home. Let’s look at some strategies for lowering the security risks of hosting these devices in your modest home.
1. Keep Your Devices Updated
Software and firmware updates are required to maintain the security of smart home devices. Security updates that address known flaws and potential dangers will frequently be applied to smart devices. Fixes, firmware updates, and security patches that defend against previously undiscovered application security flaws are frequently included in these updates.
It is definitely worthwhile to routinely check for and apply device updates because frequently, the updates also include new features and improvements. Regularly updating your software and hardware can lower your risk of cyberattacks, data theft, and privacy violations.
2. Change The Default Password On The Device
For ease of access when factory restoring the device, smart devices come with default login credentials frequently published in online user manuals; this is very common with security cameras and doorbells.
Changing the default password to a complex, strong, and unique one is one of the best ways to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing your devices. This would be a complicated password with numerous letters, numbers, and symbols. If you have several devices, create a unique password for each and think about putting them all in a password manager.
3. Use Strong Network Encryption
Most smart devices connect to the internet using your home wireless network and your home network. These devices’ security is only as secure as the encryption of your wireless network. On your home wireless network, use modern encryption protocols like WPA2 or WPA3 instead of antiquated ones like WEP and WPA.
Wireless security and the tools used to breach it are both constantly changing. For your smart home to remain secure and to stay ahead of potential threats, it is essential to keep your wireless network encryption and technology up to date.
4. Disable Unnecessary Features
Smart devices have a lot of features, not all of which you might want to enable or use. The possibility of your devices being compromised or discovered by malicious hackers can increase with features like file sharing, remote access, and management. Some smart devices have built-in public accessibility.
You should make sure that this feature is turned off before using any device that can record and stream audio and video. When using such features, only turn them on when necessary and off when no longer needed.
5. Network Subnet Segregation
Making a new subnet on your home network and giving your smart devices IP addresses from this new network is a very effective way to stop smart devices from accessing your personal devices and limit network snooping. Making a new LAN-Local (Local Area Network-Local) IP subnet is the process of subnet segregation. Devices on either network are prevented from communicating by imposing restrictions via security policies and access control.
If you’re not familiar with how network addressing functions, setting up a wireless guest network on your router is a quick and simple way to separate the smart devices. Devices on the guest network shouldn’t be able to communicate with network devices on the designated local area network by default; instead, they should only have access to the gateway. This limits the smart devices’ ability to spy on your computer and mobile devices.
6. Enable Geoblocking
Blocking access to your network and devices from particular geographic locations is known as geoblocking. When you don’t have any legitimate network connections to those countries, geoblocking can prevent access to your devices from those regions. These regions are known to have high rates of cybercrime. Depending on their software capabilities, smart devices and associated accounts may be able to limit these connections to specific appliances.
Numerous routers also provide geoblocking, which prevents certain countries from connecting to your network. If geoblocking is enabled, your smart devices and network will be better protected from discovery, scanning, and cyberattacks. Your smart home devices will be significantly less likely to be compromised as a result.
7. Limiting Account Access
The risk of unauthorized access increases with the number of accounts with management access to a smart device. The likelihood of the device being compromised by account hacking is decreased by limiting account access to a single master account with administrator rights. You will also be giving the device manufacturers fewer personal details, such as family member names, email addresses, and phone numbers, if you only have one account.
Limiting access by setting up separate accounts for each family member with lower management privileges is still a great way to lower the risk of data exposure posed by cloud-based, internet-connected smart devices, even if each family member is required to have an account.
8. Creating Firewall Rules
Using firewall rules to manage network traffic that reaches the device is an efficient way to secure smart devices. Incoming traffic from particular IP addresses or ports that hackers frequently use, such as FTP (21), SSH (22), and HTTP/S (80/443), can be blocked through the router in addition to setting up a new subnet or guest network for the devices.
Additionally, you can set up firewall rules that only permit outgoing traffic, preventing access to the devices from networks other than your own. This way, data can be protected from unauthorized access and restricted to your home network. Some router firewalls can also make rules that are tailored to particular applications. Only connections from a particular application or network protocol will be permitted when these rules are applied to your devices.
9. Network Monitoring And Intrusion Detection
IDS (Intrusion Detection Service) and network monitoring are crucial tools for protecting your home network and smart devices. Installed and used to track network traffic and generate complex logs for analysis are free network monitoring tools like WireShark and PRTG Network Monitor.
Free and open-source IDS software, like Snort and Suricata, can quickly generate alerts via email, SMS, or an application when it detects suspicious or unusual network traffic. Using IDS and network monitoring together is a potent way to keep track of activity on your home network and with your smart devices.
10. Use a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, effectively safeguards your home network and electronic equipment. Both supported devices can use software settings to apply the VPN connection, and your router can apply it to your home network. Traffic will be anonymous, and your public IP address will be hidden. You should shop for a VPN service provider that offers dependable servers in your country and fast connections.
The ability to establish a VPN connection to your home network is offered by many routers and firewalls that are both open-source and commercially available. Instead of forwarding smart device ports and IP addresses to a public interface, connect to your home network from a PC or smartphone using the VPN. After that, you can communicate with the gadgets using a locally assigned IP address.
Ultimately, you are responsible for protecting your network from the security and privacy risks brought on by smart devices in your home. Implementing a multi-layered security strategy can significantly lower your risk of having your data stolen or your home network and devices compromised.
It’s critical to keep in mind that no security measure is impenetrable. You can stay ahead of potential security breaches by remaining vigilant and staying up to date with the most recent cybersecurity news.