Smart home security systems seamlessly integrate into households using interconnected IoT devices. These systems, equipped with sensors that monitor every shift in the living space and cameras that cover the entire property, represent the pinnacle of modern convenience and safety. Their rising popularity is clear, with 63.43 million households already using them, a number projected to climb to 93.59 million in the coming four years. Considering the US has around 130 million households, it's significant that nearly half have adopted these advanced security measures. But how safe are we? Let’s look at the vulnerabilities in smart home security systems and how to avoid potential risks.
IoT devices have the capacity to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi or a wired network and are equipped with technology that allows them to be controlled remotely. IoT components of a home security system are connected through a hub and handled through a control panel or a mobile app that allows homeowners to manage the system and manipulate the actuators.
These devices contain sensors that collect specific data from the environment, which is then shared and stored in support software that relays the information to the control panel and the app. And this is what distinguishes them from other gadgets in your home.
IoT devices follow and cache information about you and your family members’ routines, habits, and preferences, harboring valuable insight into your privacy. All this is stored on the internet or the device, which is not protected by a firewall or any other type of software, making IoT devices vulnerable to cyber threats.
IoT devices and smart home systems expose households to several kinds of security threats:
Electronic devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones have inherent protection measures and adjustable security settings to guard against malicious activities. However, not all IoT devices have these security features built in. Often, sensors are connected to networks without adequate consideration of the data sensitivity they handle or their inherent lack of protection. Particularly vulnerable are devices like baby monitors and security cameras. If compromised, these can give criminals access to your home without you even knowing.
Unprotected or poorly protected home networks are another gateway for cybercriminals. Anyone who breaches the home network firewall can access data from the IoT devices and your personal data such as emails, bank accounts, and social networks. Additionally, this gives criminals control over your network and allows them to enter and manage all systems connected to it.
Network intrusion is often made possible by phishing and tricking individuals or children into downloading malware, usually disguised as innocuous games. This makes it paramount to safeguard our children online and diligently work to thwart network security issues.
Mobile apps add to the convenience of managing your smart home from anywhere, but they also provide the easiest and fastest way for criminals to get into your house. Smartphones get stolen and hacked, exposing loads of personal data and allowing access to all areas of your life. Another possibility is eavesdropping on your connection or monitoring your phone activity to learn your security patterns. Our smartphones are the hub of all our activities, and any security breach poses severe threats to all aspects of our lives.
There are certain steps you can take to foolproof your smart home security system and ensure peace of mind for you and your family.
Create separate networks. Invest in a separate router for your security system and use another for work or entertainment. This way, if they manage to enter the system, criminals won’t be able to navigate to your personal accounts.
Fortify your network by using strong passwords and changing the default name. This will prevent hackers from predicting what network or device you are using. Additionally, make sure all computers and smart devices have different passwords.
If needed, replace your router with a more advanced one containing an in-built firewall, and update the security software on all devices. This includes upgrading your smart home mobile app security settings.
Apply multi-factor authentication when logging into systems. Asking for additional information to get access to the system will bring the chances of network intrusion to a minimum.
When integrating a smart home security system, you should know that your home ceases to be just a physical space. It becomes part of the digital world and requires the same level of protection we provide for other digital devices. Fortifying the system against cyber threats, hacking, and intrusion will offer a complete sense of security and comfort in your home.
David Todva is a freelance writer for The Next Tech, among other publications. He has been in the industry for many years and has earned a reputation as an accomplished writer, specializing in technology innovation with a focus on home security.