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Hacker-proof your smart home: Here's how to protect yourself

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© Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

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You may not know it, but hackers find smart home devices very enticing. In fact, it is good to know that the gadgets that are meant to help you to manage small daily chores in the house are increasingly the victims of attacks. That's why it is important to take precautions! Here are some tips to help you stay safe.

A recent report found that Internet-connected security cameras account for almost half of the IoT devices that are compromised by hackers. This is quite worrying, especially when you consider that these kinds of devices are used by individuals in their homes, but also by companies in the workplace.

But there is more bad news, because the same research, carried out by the information security company SAM Seamless Network, found that as many as 47% of the security cameras installed on home networks are easily vulnerable, especially when it comes to cheap devices.

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Cameras connected to the Internet are the devices most affected by hackers. / © NextPit

Many of these are known for their gaps and vulnerabilities that allow attackers to remotely access or control them, while others are simply protected by rather weak passwords. However, whatever the weakness of a device, a vulnerable product can potentially provide hackers with an easier way to access all other devices connected to the same network, like a back door!

After that scary introduction, you may feel a bit worried, but we're here to help with these tips for making your smart home more secure!

Using a VPN on your router

The fastest way to add more security to all your devices, without having to configure each of them individually, is to install a virtual private network (VPN) service on your router.

VPNs add a level of end-to-end encryption to all data that is sent and received through them. This means that whatever is transmitted or received by your network, from e-mails sent to recordings from your webcam, will be hidden from prying eyes and accessible only by yourself and the recipients.

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Installing a VPN at the source is already a great way to protect yourself. / ©

For devices where the manufacturer does not give you the option of changing the password or adding additional security measures, protecting the entire Internet connection of your home from the router is incredibly simple but also extremely effective.

Change your password wherever possible

A common problem with smart home devices is that users cannot change the default access details, although in some cases it is absolutely necessary. In short, when you are configuring a new device, if you can change the user name and password to access the control panel of your device, you definitely should!

If you have a device that uses the same access information as any other product of the same brand and model, it is much easier for hackers to find the online manual and gain access to that device. Use a complex password that is easy to remember. We recommend the use of upper and lower case letters, letters and symbols.

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Choosing a complex password decreases most of the chances of being attacked. / © Minerva Studio / Shutterstock

We know that it may be difficult to remember many passwords of this type, which is why we also recommend the use of password managers.

Disable all features you do not use

The last piece of advice we offer is to make sure you disable features and permissions that are not absolutely necessary. A key example could be remote access: if you don't need to access a particular device when you're out and about, disable this feature.

You should be aware that there is no legislation or standard that could oblige manufacturers to inform their users about security on their smart home devices, but it is hoped that the situation will change in the future in order to offer users a higher level of home security.

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Deactivate all functions that you do not use on your devices. / © NicoElNino/Shutterstock

For the time being, it is therefore up to you to ensure that your smart home devices are as secure as they can be.

Have you ever had a hacker attack your smart home? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Jessie Grayskull 3
    Jessie Grayskull Jul 22, 2019 Link to comment

    Setting a VPN up on your router sounds difficult, but it's actually quite easy. I was able to get ExpressVPN installed in a few minutes. I think they even sell pre-installed VPN routers.