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How to ensure IoT security in smart homes

NetworkTigers discusses Internet of Things security in smart homes

The number of attacks on IoT devices is on the rise as smart home technology increases in popularity. Recent incidents involving consumer Internet of Things devices have seen unauthorized users access home networks via holes in device security. 

As a result, many consumers are now reluctant to use the Internet of Things devices, even though most of those breaches happened because of poor user setup. In this post, we’ll discuss the risks associated with smart home automation, why smart home devices are vulnerable, and the steps you should take to ensure IoT security in a smart home. 

What risks does smart home automation pose?

While internet-connected devices such as smart thermostats, locks, TVs, and security cameras can add convenience to your life, they can also make your connected devices and home vulnerable. That’s why having a plan to secure your smart home devices is crucial.

If cybercriminals hack your home Wi-Fi network, they can access your personal data, computers, and all the devices connected within your network. Additionally, cybercriminals can infiltrate Internet of Things devices to harm you, harness your IoT devices’ power for personal usage or hack your routers and use your data/steal it for personal benefits.

Why smart home devices are vulnerable

Like most other connected devices, security cameras and home routers are among the top IoT targets for cyber attackers because they have no built-in or little security, making them vulnerable to malware. Additionally, security isn’t usually a top priority for Internet of Things device makers.

Their poor security practices lack:

  • System hardening that gives computer systems various means of protection to make them more secure
  • The mechanism for updating software that can create vulnerabilities
  • Includes hardcoded or default passwords that cybercriminals can easily exploit

Building a more secure smart home begins with your Wi-Fi router as it can help prevent cyber attackers from stealing and misusing your personal data. While most homeowners use the router offered by their internet service provider, we recommend investing in Cisco Routers. These routers provide proper IoT security for your smart home.

How to ensure IoT security in smart home automation

If you’re planning to invest in a smart home, you need to ensure your Internet of Things security is up to date. Below are tips you can implement to protect your IoT devices to keep your home and data safe from malicious users:

  1. Deploy a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW)

Although routers have a built-in firewall, it isn’t sufficient. This is because traditional firewalls lack essential security functionalities such as an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), Virtual Private Network (VPN), SSH/SSL interception, malware protection, Qos management, and content filtering.

Next-Generation Firewalls are integrated network platforms that combine traditional firewalls with the security features mentioned above. These firewalls have all the capabilities of traditional firewalls, making them more powerful in detecting and preventing cyberattacks. 

While Next-Generation Firewalls are costly, the security boost they provide for your smart home makes them a worthy investment. Besides, spending a little extra to buy them will help you secure your privacy.

  1. Use two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication is an added layer of security that requires someone to give additional proof of identity before logging in to your IoT devices. This proof can be in the form of a verification code or OTP (one-time pin) sent to your email address or phone number to confirm the person logging in is indeed you. 

You can use a similar strategy to ensure a security layer within your home Wi-Fi network to keep your data safe because some IoT devices don’t have the two-factor authentication feature. You can enable multi-factor authentication using trusted third-party applications like Google Authenticator.

Having an extra layer of security via third-party services can give you peace of mind even if your device has multi-factor authentication with its associated mobile application. 

  1. Create different Wi-Fi networks for your IoT devices

Most modern routers allow homeowners to create a secondary network. Setting up a different network dedicated to your devices can help you protect your main network against IoT attacks. This means your smart home network will only be accessible to you and your loved ones. 

Again, putting IoT devices on different networks keeps them detached, making it difficult for hackers to access any of your important devices like smartphones or laptops even if they manage to get through. This limits a breach.

Although hackers can propagate from one of your IoT devices if it gets hacked to other devices, they may not gain access to your sensitive data or reach your laptop.

  1. Use strong passwords

To use your IoT devices, you need to create an account and sign in. The devices have associated mobile applications where those login credentials are required. Now, creating unique passwords for each IoT device’s app and account is important.

This will ensure other passwords remain intact if one device is compromised. The downside is that you will have to write down all the passwords to remember them. However, you can use a password management tool to store unlimited strong passwords, sync them between different IoT devices or create new ones.

  1. Disable the features you rarely use

Many Internet of Things devices allows you to operate them from any location. However, you should disable remote access if you only use them on your home’s Wi-Fi network. Likewise, turn off smart speakers as they have Wi-Fi in addition to Bluetooth connectivity. 

Smart TVs are equipped with voice control, but this functionality isn’t used in voice-controlled homes where smart assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant are used. It may sound paranoid however an active microphone can be used to listen to your conversations if hacked. Disabling the features is essential as it can help prevent those multiple entry points.


Maclean Odiesa
Maclean Odiesa
Maclean is a tech freelance writer with 7+ years in content strategy and development. She is also a pillar pages specialist and SEO expert.

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