Technology has helped us go places we never imagined, and has made our lives easier in so many ways. While there are many positive aspects to it, there sadly also exists a list of negatives.
Wondering what these negatives are? Here’s something for you to think about.
Did you know there are about 1093 data breaches in the US each year approximately 74% of which pertain to identity theft? And as of October 2017, Yahoo experienced its biggest data breach ever, with over 3 billion data files being compromised. And that’s not it. You should also know that as of July 2016, 14% of US Internet users experienced online harassment through privacy invasion and a little over 36 million data records are compromised in the US annually. Unimaginable, right?
It doesn’t end there, however. You, your family, and your smart home could be the next victims. How, you ask? Let’s take a closer look.
There’s a malware that’s been affecting Samsung smart TVs of late. Allegedly a joint CIA-MI5 surveillance program known as the Weeping Angel, the malware puts the TV into a fake ‘off’ mode, allowing the user to believe that the device is turned off. The webcam of the TV can then be used to record conversations, etc., which can then be stored in a remote server. Pretty hard to imagine, but it is happening.
Here’s a look into Weeping Angel:
Another example of the vulnerability of smart home systems is the occurrence of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. A DDoS attack causes disruption in your home by making use of your smart device network, and playing havoc with them. It can also be used to harm service provider networks by redirecting online traffic from multiple homes (sources) and overwhelming a particular online server. For example, in October 2016, DNS service provider Dyn, faced a massive DDoS cyber attack that brought the Internet to its knees.
Here’s Woody bringing you up to speed on DDoS attacks:
Don’t these facts want to make you improve the safety of your smart home immediately? So, let’s not pander to paranoia any further, and move on to exploring different feasible solutions to the above mentioned predicaments. Here are 5 simple steps that will help you safeguard your smart home:
- Lock your router
A non-secure wireless network is like a cyber catastrophe waiting to happen. It is very important that you secure your network from direct threats by enabling a passcode lock, so as to shield your router and home from external threats.
IMPORTANT: Your Wifi can be KRACK’ed
As of October 18 2017, a new security threat called KRACK, or Key Reinstallation Attack has surfaced. This spells worry for major operating systems in the field, as it involves the exploitation of a loophole in a WAP2 network, which is basically your WiFi. By now, you must be wondering what the hack entails, and what it means for your smart home privacy. Essentially, a hacker can gain full access to your network and its devices, thus being able to control your data and manipulate your devices/appliances. Although many companies have already rolled out patches (firmware updates) to fix the issue, the threat still exists for those that haven’t.
- Have additional authentication
You must use more than one security measure for all your devices that connect to the internet. For example, having more than just a simple passcode lock for your smartphone is essential; and extra measures such as fingerprint or facial recognition go a long way in preventing unwanted access.
- Complete each security update
Many of us have a habit of postponing security updates for our laptops, smartphones, etc. Always bear in mind that security updates are provided to combat new online threats that are spawning on the Internet every day. The longer one postpones it, the greater is the risk of virus infection, unwanted access, etc. Security must always come first; your work isn’t running away.
- Keep your devices out of reach of strangers
There is an old saying: ‘sharing is caring’. A more recent saying however, is: ‘malware isn’t caring’– and neither is a remotely accessible hack planted into your device software. Only allow device access for people whom you trust, because unlike strangers, their motives aren’t possibly malicious. But if they do turn out to be malicious, here is another saying: you need new friends.
- Always use name brands
It is always preferable to use known brands for your electronic choices. When it comes to your tablets, phone, or even smart home accessories, well-known brands are always a better bet. While they may cost a tad more than lesser-known brands, they have a better handle on quality as well as device security. Apart from this, good brands are quite reliable in situations where problems such as malware infestation have occurred.
Blockchain: The ultimate security?
Blockchain is a recent technological advancement in the Internet world, and is being hailed by many as the future of online computing. A brainchild of the mysterious person/group Satoshi Nakamoto, blockchain is the ‘backbone’ of a whole new generation of the Internet. The reason it is considered totally secure, is because it follows a decentralized approach. This means that in blockchain, vulnerabilities of centralized databanks are eliminated. What’s more, the information is also equally accessible to all nodes (devices) of the network. It seems as though ‘security through transparency’ is the upcoming norm for the Internet. Despite there being contradictions to this theory on grounds of the technology being very new, let us hope that this possibly uncompromising future of the Web turns into reality.
These are the various measures you can take in order to secure your network, and home, from oncoming threats. However, do bear in mind that when it comes to overall long-term security, regular updates are only the first step. For more ideas and inspiration for making your home a smart, but secure one, visit our ‘Smart Safety and Security’ section.