Smart home technology also termed is the use of such devices in a home that connect via a network to the internet. It uses devices such as sensors and other appliances that are connected to the Internet of Things(IoT), that can be remotely monitored,controlled or accessed and provide services that respond to the perceived needs of the users. This technology was originally developed by IBM and was referred to as Predictive failure analysis.
Smart home technology is also referred as home automation or ‘domotics’ (in Latin meaning home), which provides home owners security, along with providing a more comfortable, convenient, and energy efficient home; by allowing them to control smart devices, often by smart home apps via smart phones or other smart PCs.
Users can remotely control connected home systems whether they are at home or away. Smart home technology also contributes to health and well being enhancement by accommodating people with special needs, especially older people. These smart homes are now being used to create smart cities.
However, it is to be noted that the IoT connected devices, like the smart televisions sets, smart locks, security cameras, can add aid to much more convenient life, but these can also make homes and connected devices more vulnerable. That is why it is important to have a defense plan for securing smart home devices.
In October 2016, smart home technology systems were breached in order to carry out the Directed Denial of Service attack(DDoS). These devices were connected by the IoT. Hackers targeted unsecured devices in these Smart Homes and infected them with malicious code to from a botnet and carry out the attack.
A study estimates that at least 15% of home routers are unsecured with weak or default passwords. There are 13 billion interconnected devices around the world, the October 16, DDoS attack showed that a small percentage can have a devastating impact.
Hence the IoT which are connected to all those appliances which are thereby connected to the internet, and to your personal home network — have hence, paved the way for cyber attacks.
Smart homes are more vulnerable to cyber attacks
Hackers usually attack home routers and security cameras because these two devices are those devices that are connected to the most number of devices, and also have little or no built-in security, which thereby makes them vulnerable to malware. And also most of the times, security is not a top priority for IoT device makers. Their poor security practices include these:
- No system hardening, which gives a computer system various means of protection and makes it more secure.
- No mechanism for updating software, which can create vulnerabilities.
- Default passwords which can be hacked by the hackers.
Few ways to build up your home security
- Do not use the same name for your router, as given by your manufacturer. It should be given such a name that the hacker is not able to get out any personal details, such as house number or street number. It should be unusual and not easily identified by anyone, but yourself.
- Using a strong encryption password for the wifi. It is always a good idea to use strong encryption method like WPA2, when you set up a wifi network access. This will help to set your communication and networks more secure.
- Set up a guest network. In such a way that when relatives or guests can log into a separate network that does not tie up with your IoT devices.
- Change default usernames and passwords is necessary, as cybercriminals already know most of them when they come with the IoT products. Which therefore, makes it easier for them to have access to your devices and eventually the information that is stored in them.
- Use strong, and unique passwords for your wifi and device accounts. Your passwords should incorporate unique, complex words that are made up all letters, numbers and symbols.
- Check the settings of your devices. Many IoT devices come up with default or privacy and security settings. Changes should be made to them, in such a way that it benefits you and not the manufacturer.
- You should disable features that you will not be needing.
- Keep your software up to date. These updates will further strengthen your devices and will help in keeping it safe.
- Audit the devices on your home network. And take actions that if needed upgradation for your devices to help your network to get stronger.
- Follow two step authentication. Such as one-time code sent to your mobile phone.
- Avoid public wifi networks. It is generally advised to not use public wifi and instead use a VPN.
- Ensure that a hardware outage does not result in an unsecure state for the device.
Now of course with the fast pacing change in technology, there are so many more better manufacturing companies that offer better facilities. There are more companies underway that have now been realising and moving towards making security the top most priority.
The goal should not be only of making our life seem more glossier day after day, but companies should put forth such security concerns that are absolutely necessary. As now smart homes make a smart city, a simple breach can further bring down cities and along with it billions of lives. Hence, security should be realised as a necessity by all.
- https://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/smart-home-or-buil ding
Sharon Sarah Thawaney
St.Xaviers College, Kolkata
Intern at Cyber Peace Foundation