Secure Your Smart Home

This past week, CBC reported that it had hired hackers to hack a family’s smarthome and that the experiment revealed some pretty significant vulnerabilities. In fact, the hackers were able to gain access to the family’s home by hacking its smart lock, see what the family was doing by accessing its smart security cameras and even control the temperature in the home by hacking the smart thermostat.


With many of us turning to smart home devices to make our lives simpler and more convenient, we should all be concerned to hear about security vulnerabilities like these ones. So how do you protect your smart home devices and ensure that your home remains secure? Here are five ways you can ensure your home remains secure while you enjoy the convenience of smart home devices:


1. Start with your router

Your router is the gateway to all the Wi-Fi connected devices in your home, so it’s the natural place to start when securing your smart home. For starters, you should change the default name of your router as it can give away the make and model making it easier for hackers to figure out how to compromise it. It goes without saying that you should also change the password, choosing a new one that’s strong and unique—more on this later. In addition to these steps, you should enable a strong encryption method for your network, like WPA2. Finally, ensure that you have a guest network set up for friends and family, keeping the network that ties into your smart home devices private among your family.


2. Make smart purchases

There are a lot of smart devices on the market but not all of them are created equal, especially when it comes to security. That’s why I typically rely on big, recognizable brands when choosing smart home devices. These brands typically have the resources to invest in making their devices secure and repairing security flaws. They also have a lot to lose from negative publicity so it’s worth their while to invest in security.


3. Use strong, unique passwords

The biggest vulnerability in a smart home is weak and duplicate passwords. It’s important keep in mind that a weak password, like a birthdate or pet’s name, is easy to hack and that using it more than once makes it easy for hackers to compromise multiple devices. To keep things secure, I recommend using a password manager like LastPass to generate and store strong, unique passwords for each device.


4. Stay up to date

You may have noticed that security vulnerabilities are uncovered regularly and that no devices are immune. To address these vulnerabilities, manufacturers and software developers constantly release updates. Installing these updates is essential to keeping your devices secure but it’s important to remember that you won’t always be notified when an update is available. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check the apps that accompany your smart home devices and even the manufacturer’s websites. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check your router’s manufacturer website for updates for that device.


5. Enable two-step authentication

Two-step authentication might seem a little confusing but basically, it ensures that you can only access an account or device using a trusted device. If someone tries to gain access using a new device, a one-time use code is automatically sent to the trusted device. Without this one-time use code, the person trying to gain access won’t be successful, even if they’ve figured out your password. While two-step authentication might seem like a lot of work, it makes all the difference when it comes to security.


With these security measures in place, your smart home should remain secure giving you greater peace of mind while allowing you to enjoy the convenience of your favourite smart home devices.

By Mike Agerbo

October 02, 2018