The world of smart home technology is a wonderful place. Who doesn’t want their coffee maker to turn on or their blinds to open at the press of a button on their cell phone? These are just two simple options in the smart home tech world, which also includes a wide variety of gadgets and apps that are designed to protect your home and increase your safety. These security additions sound amazing, but they also come with some not-so-wonderful risks. Did you know that the more Wi-Fi capable appliances you have, the higher of a chance they will be hacked?
Believe it or not, hackers are playing havoc with Wi-Fi connected devices and this can cause a shocking amount of damage to your home. CBC did an investigation in September of 2018 of smart home security by hiring “ethical hackers” to hack into one family’s smart home and, “All it took was a white van, a team of three hackers and a phishing email to remotely unlock Johanna Kenwood and Peter Yarema's front door. The couple's home in Oakville, Ontario, is automated with a number of smart devices, including their lights, thermostat, security cameras and the deadbolt on their door.”
When you hear stories like this, you cannot help but be concerned. Although there are risks to smart home tech, there are also ways to protect yourself and your smart home from hackers.
- If your gadget uses a password to access the settings, change that password frequently. Ideally, change it once every 3 months.
- Protect your network. Make sure you change your Wi-Fi password from the default one that was initially assigned at installation and continue to change it periodically.
- You can completely hide your home’s Wi-Fi network from view through your router’s settings menu. This makes it so that if a hacker was searching for available Wi-Fi networks, it would not even be listed.
- I know it is tempting… but don’t use the same password for everything. Never underestimate the power of a password!
- Some gadgets, such as alarm systems, come with their own connection to the internet. Learn how to turn that connection off if it becomes necessary to do so.
- Do not leave an internet-connected appliance or other gadget on constantly unless it’s necessary. For example, you don't need your home speaker system connected to your digital music providers all the time.
- Stick with reputable brands. This isn’t a purchase that you should skimp on!
- Baby monitors with video are a common target for hackers. Use a password unique to that device and change it often. Never leave the monitor on when not in use.
- Never share passwords with anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. Most home WIFI systems have a "guest" feature with a separate password and limited access. Use it.
In this age of internet connectivity — from coffee makers to stereos and even washing machines — it's smart to play it safe. Know what's connected and protect yourself with these easy tips.