How To Protect Your Home Devices Against Cybersecurity Threats
Cybersecurity threats are not far from any home device which boasts internet connection. While Smart technologies provide homeowners with convenience, security and efficiency, they are vulnerable to cyber attacks.
In a recent article published by The Guardian titled, ‘Israeli spyware firm targeted Apple devices via iMessage, researchers say’, security researchers from the Citizen Lab discovered that government clients of NSO Group, an Israeli spyware company, were using an exploit to hack into iPhones and other Apple devices.
Findings Reveal Absolute ‘Seriousness’
The article revealed that, “When it is successfully deployed against a target, NSO Group’s spyware, called Pegasus, can silently hack into a phone, collect a user’s personal and private information, intercept calls and messages, and even turn a mobile phone into a remote listening device.”
This extreme case of cybercrime is not an isolated case with spyware often used by government clients to target journalists and human rights activists worldwide.
With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), Smart devices, IoT devices and home technologies have become more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
According to TechRepublic’s Cybersecurity Report, the average household – through vulnerable devices such as Smartphones, IoT devices, computers, laptops, tablets and network cameras – receives 104 threats per month.
Three levels of vulnerability
With fewer processing and storage capabilities, along with a lack of antivirus firewalls and other security applications, IoT devices and Smart Home systems are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. However, the degree of vulnerability varies with every IoT device.
IoT devices fall under three levels of vulnerability which include:
1. High vulnerability
Outdoor devices with embedded computers that support little or no security protocols. These include garage door openers, wireless doorbells and Smart sprinklers. These devices are easily accessible through computers and Wi-Fi transmitters.
2. Medium vulnerability
These consist of in-door devices that can be controlled with a smartphone app or from an IoT device. These include Smart bulbs, Smart switches, security cameras, baby monitors, Smart thermostats and personal assistants. The devices rely on weak security tokens and may be hacked due to weaknesses in the communication protocols used, configuration settings or vulnerable entry points left open.
3. Low vulnerability
Home appliances such as smart refrigerators and ovens are the least vulnerable, however, a potential breach is still possible.
Ways to protect your home and devices against cybercrime
The sad reality is that there is no IoT infrastructure or Smart device that boasts 100% security. With this, homeowners are encouraged to implement measures that reduce the risk of a cyberattack.
Firstly, thorough research of IoT devices and smart home technologies and systems is the first line of defence. Secondly, implementing security measures and purchasing a high-quality router with a reputable brand is advised. Thirdly, the installation of smart home technologies and devices should be done by a professional, with credible providers ensuring Smart home integration and built-in security.
When choosing a network name, homeowners are encouraged to avoid names that include location or personal details. Within the router’s settings, network names can be hidden from view and applicable firewalls installed.
Once all router safety measures have been implemented, homeowners are encouraged to make use of unique passwords – a strong protection mechanism. All default passwords must be changed immediately and replaced with unique passwords that comprise several characters, numbers and letters. Selecting a different password for each device is advised.
With COVID 19 forcing many into remote work and cybercrime reaching high levels with advancements in technology, cybersecurity is of utmost importance for homeowners. With a greater need for homeowners to be alert of potential threats and worldwide malicious cyber activity, ensuring Smart home security and protection is key.