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Can you hack a Smart Home?

Our world is changing at an incredible pace, probably the fastest in history, or at least since the Industrial Revolution. New smart gadgets, devices and the Internet of Things have converged to give us the smart home which works with our new connected lifestyles, saving us time, money and energy – making it an appealing way to live for many. However, many people know that with technology and the Internet comes the opportunity to be hacked or attacked by a virus. We look at the security of a smart home and how you can protect yourself from such threats.

How to stop unwanted guests entering your smart home

One of the first things you need to realise, it doesn’t matter how many smart devices you have in your home, whether you have one or twenty, you need to make sure they are all set up and optimised to ward off virtual trespassers. For a start, the easiest and best way to do this is to check the manufacturer recommendations for each device individually. Each device comes with its own software and updates, and it is wise to ensure these are done so that any bugs are fixes and the anti-virus software is running smoothly. Set a reminder on your phone for once a month to do a check of all of these. That way, you will have peace of mind that your smart home is protected. Sometimes, these updates can be time-consuming or can involve connecting to a computer, but at the end of the day, your privacy and security are precious, making it worth the hassle.

Check the apps you’re using for your smart devices

Once your smart devices are updated, look at your apps. Applications need to be updated often as they are the ones operating several of your devices at once, and threats can access your smart home through them.

Also, carefully consider using third-party apps designed for major software. They may extend your user functionality and add convenience to your life, but do your research and make sure they have no flaws in their code. If they allow too much access, hackers may be able to breach your system. The bottom line is that if you are adding a smart lock to your home security, be sure to limit its access to third-party apps, as they can leave you more vulnerable.

Bigger names are better

As the smart home is relatively new, it is still important to stick with the ‘big guns’ when it comes to branding. This is because they are usually more advanced in terms of technology and have the capabilities to offer regular updates and fixes. Some experts recommend getting all your gear from one particular brand as you’ll be operating off less platforms, helping to limit exposure. Some of the more popular systems on offer include: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings.

Get a firewall

While the Internet of Things (IoT) has brought with it value it has made us vulnerable in new ways. Installing a firewall is crucial to securing your home and privacy. Always be sure to update your device default network names and install a firewall to give you another layer of protection.

Check your smart home router

Routers are the suppliers of high-speed WiFi into your home making it an appealing entry point for hackers. While this sounds concerning, the good news is that router security is improving every day due to the popularity of smart homes and the unique security challenges it brings.

Some routers can be purchased with built-in security features which help to block off typical pathways open to malware and hackers. It is always recommended to speak to your service provider about these and upgrade where possible.

On the other hand, one can purchase a separate device that helps to build a protective ‘firewall’ for your router; making it more impenetrable. Popular examples of these include the Bitdefender Box and the Cujo Smart Firewall.

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