Security 101 11-16-2015

Why Home Network Security Is Important

Katie Macdonald

The Internet of Things began as a concept of the future of connected technology and is now a reality. The average home has multiple connected devices, following in the footsteps of technologically savvy enterprises and businesses.

However, more than half of consumers don't actually believe that IoT devices have the necessary security in place to keep their data secure, according to research from Auth0. In addition to this, developers shared consumers' worries, with 90% believing the IoT devices on the market currently don't have proper security measures in place.

In this era of connected homes, the average user should be aware of additional ways to secure their home networks.

Threats to the Modern-Day, Well-Connected Home

When talking about security, people tend to focus on computers, smartphones, and tablets. But now another real threat is an attacker using a poorly secured device as a backdoor into a personal network. For example, if hackers can access the network through the smart TV, they can easily infect a laptop on the same network with malware or access files on the laptop.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered serious threats to the connected home by taking a random selection of the latest IoT products. These include a coffeemaker that exposes the homeowner’s Wi-Fi password, a baby video monitor that can be controlled by a malicious third-party, and a smartphone-controlled home security system that can be fooled with a magnet.

"Any connected, app-controlled device is almost certain to have at least one security issue. Criminals might exploit several of these issues at once, which is why it is so important for vendors to fix all issues - even those that are not critical," said Victor Alyushin, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

The Internet of Things expands the amount of data available, and much of the data includes personal information. Because not all vulnerabilities are addressed before a product hits the market, it is important to have a precautionary security plan in place when using IoT devices in the home.

How to Protect a Home Network

An attacker with the right motivation (or level of boredom) can have vital personal information at their fingertips in an instant. The following steps can provide a start to secure a home network.

  1. Disable guest network access entirely. This will keep strangers from being able to hop on randomly.
  2. Keep the firmware on all devices updated. Try to find devices that check automatically and set up a calendar to track updates in order to make things less time-consuming.
  3. Change the default username and password on all devices when the option is available. Even if it is a product that seems less at risk, such as a satellite receiver or a network hard drive, the administrative interface may have serious flaws, according to PC Mag.
  4. Encrypt all files, even if they are backed up on a personal network. If not with a full-blown encryption tool, then with password-protected ZIP files.

Users, in addition to manufacturers, need to think about personal networks and all of the devices linked to them. There is a fine line between being cautious and paranoid, but it is common sense to expect that everything can be hacked, even hardware. Put in the effort and lock all entry points, and the Internet of Things can be a wonderful tool rather than a backdoor pass for hackers.


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