Living in a digitally connected world allows us to make our homes more efficient and fun. You can control everything from your lights, to your furnace, to your home entertainment system from your mobile device no matter where you are in the world. But, the Internet of Things (IoT) and constant connectivity also has a dark side.
There are now more ways to hack into your home than ever.
Inside the Mind of a Hacker
Black hat hackers aren’t interested in simply ruining your morning ritual by hacking into your smart coffee maker. These denizens of the dark web have one primary goal—to make money without having to work for it. They are predators. They want to steal as much as they can with as little effort as possible.
If you want to keep your home and your family’s personal information safe from black hat hackers, you need to learn to think like them.
Your Most Vulnerable Point of Entry
From a cybersecurity perspective what is your home’s most vulnerable point of entry?
Your internet router.
If you are like most people, all of your data is flowing through your router. Everything from your Nest thermostat to your iPhone is using WIFI to connect to your router and out to the internet. Your router is the primary way hackers will try and get access, or take control, of your systems and devices.
Here are five steps you should take to secure your router right now:
- Change the default username and password on your router (you know better!)
- Make sure your router is using WPA2 encryption
- Make sure your router’s firmware is up to date
- Use Network Address Translation (NAT) routing and port filtering to make sure you are limiting your home’s exposure to the outside world
- Use MAC filtering to keep unauthorized devices off of your network
It’s also a good idea to change your WIFI network name and password periodically.
Choose the Right Connected Devices
The next step in keeping your home safe from hackers is being selective about what smart devices you choose to use. You should not use any IoT device that doesn’t have an easy way to update the firmware settings.
Cybersecurity is a constant cat and mouse game between the black hat hackers trying to rip you off and the white hat hackers trying to keep you safe. When the bad guys find an exploit to one of your devices, it is usually patched with a firmware update. But, if it is too hard to update the firmware, your device may remain an open door for hackers.
You also want to choose reputable brands. You want to use products from brands that have something to lose if huge security flaws are uncovered. They are more likely to take your security seriously.
Another cybersecurity best practice is to never connect to your home’s IoT devices from public WIFI. It is too easy for hackers to exploit public WIFI routers. Using WIFI without using a VPN to encrypt your data is like handing the keys to you house to complete strangers. You never know what might happen.
When it comes to protecting your home, locking the doors and windows is no longer enough. You need to make sure you have also secured all the digital entryways to your home or else you will have unwanted cybercriminals virtually squatting in your home.
Have other ideas for securing your home from hackers? Let me know in the comments. – Joshua Spencer