Crystal Valley Blog

Hack-Proof Your Smart Home

POSTED October 18, 2016

If you have a smart home, or some day want one that’s fully automated and remote-controllable, you need to know how to protect it from hackers and thieves.

Wi-Fi cameras and other smart-home devices promise a futuristic haven with interconnected and remote-operated conveniences. But as cyber-security researchers have found, smart-home systems can be hijacked in minutes if consumers get lazy about prevention. Once hackers have access, they can control everything from the fridge, to the baby monitors, to the digital lock on the front door.

Smart HomeSecurity experts say you should assume anything that is internet-accessible is hackable. And if it has a camera or built-in mic, it can be hijacked. Taken over. Invaded. To protect yourself, your family and your home, here are some easy tips to help you ratchet up your defenses:

Research security. When you shop for a smart-home device, find out how often the manufacturer issues security updates. Research any security weaknesses and if there’s no mention of security, consider that a red flag. Also, know that the less you pay for a device, the less protection you can expect.

Update firmware. Use the instructions that come with the device and don’t assume a new product is already updated since changes frequently. If the product has an auto-updating option, use it. Set a monthly calendar reminder for yourself to check for updates on all of your cameras, thermostats and other smart home products.

Change passwords to protect your home. Hackers often try the default username and password for popular devices. It’s best to use your own secure passwords (and NOT the same one for all your devices and accounts). If you have trouble coming up with good passwords—and remembering them—a password manager can help.

Secure routers. Routers are the digital entryway to a home. If your router is poorly-secured it may give online attackers access to all the home automation devices in your network. Change the default admin login and choose a strong, unique password and update the firmware.

To be safe, make sure your Wi-Fi security is set to WPA2. (Do it now!)

Create a separate network. For extra protection use a newer router to create a separate Wi-Fi network for your smart-home devices.

Limit the number of cameras. Assume that any internet-connected camera can be hacked. That means you should limit the number of cameras you have inside your home, especially in bedrooms.

Buy new hardware. Some older gadgets are just plain vulnerable without network-engineering know-how. Newer products have smarter security features and are easier to keep up-to-date.

A Smart Home Choice!

We provide Crystal Valley homeowners with a variety of options to create a safe and personalized home. If you don’t live here yet, drop into the Richmond American Homes sales office and view their latest collections, both ranch and two-story models. Priced from the $300s.

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