In the 21st century, everything is becoming “smart.” As computer technology improves, every device becomes more interconnected through the Internet of Things (IoT).
This is what makes smart home technology so attractive — you can control the functions of your home all through a voice assistant or app. Being able to access the functionality of your home quickly makes it more convenient for users. However, while IoT technology has revolutionized how devices interact with one another, it can also potentially make you more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Unfortunately, the other thing that is evolving in the 21st century is cyberattacks. Although over one million home burglaries happen annually in the U.S., security technology has made enormous strides in keeping people and properties safe.
However, the most significant battleground for security is cyberspace. Cyberattacks significantly escalated during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and experts believe they will only become more dangerous as technology becomes more dependent on the IoT
Hackers targeting IoT devices can do more than steal personal information. Accessing your IoT system means they can control any functionalities linked to your smart devices, which can become a real disruption in your life. Such a security breach especially devastates people with a smart home system.
Cyber attackers that can get into the system can control your home’s security and might even be able to unlock the doors in your home. They can also access all the data stored in your smart home system, allowing them to track your movements. For example, while smart motion detectors can prevent break-ins and theft, a bad actor could potentially hack your system and take note of when you’re not home to make burglary much more successful.
Fortunately, there are ways to safeguard your smart home against cyber threats. These methods range from simple education to investing in cybersecurity programs.
Many affordable cybersecurity programs are available that provide basic security features. These include firewalls and regular security scans for potentially harmful programs your device might have picked up.
However, the new standard in cybersecurity is multi-factor authentication. While antivirus and firewall software identify and block malicious programs from entering your system, multi-factor authentication (MFA) can stop hackers from accessing your system entirely.
Rather than using a username and password system, MFA uses a token system to authenticate users. This token system typically uses an external device — such as a laptop or smartphone — to receive one-time passcodes. Entering the code will show the user is the system’s owner because only they should have access to the secondary device. This can significantly enhance the cybersecurity of smart homes because hackers will need more than your username and password to access the system — they’ll need access to the receiver.
In addition, because the security code is only valid for one authentication, hackers cannot use that same code to get into your smart home system every time. This extra layer of security can prevent cyberattacks entirely.
One of the best ways to keep your smart home secure is to be aware of and practice good habits. Ensuring every password you have for your devices is unique and complex is a simple yet effective way to keep cybercriminals out.
Another simple thing you can do is avoid public Wi-Fi. While convenient, public Wi-Fi is also notorious for being a hunting ground for hackers. If the device you connect with has access to your smart home system, hackers who take control of the Wi-Fi can also access all the devices connected to your smart home.
Recognizing the most common forms of cyberattacks can also help you keep your smart devices safe. For example, it’s easy to spot a phishing scam once you know what to look for. While phishing domains and email addresses try to mimic a real organization, they are always different — even if that difference seems superficial. Always double-check who the email address or domain the message is coming from by looking up the actual organization’s website.
Another good practice is visiting trusted and secure websites, and never clicking on banner ads or prompts. Fake ads and prompts will sometimes appear on insecure websites, and clicking on them will allow hackers to access your system. They can then take control of your browsing session, steal your security credential or access your smart home devices directly.
While cyber-attacks on smart homes and other devices are a genuine threat in today’s world, there are measures you can take to prevent them. Investing in security programs like multi-factor authentication and practicing good cybersecurity habits can go a long way to safeguarding your smart home