Smart home security: how to protect your connected home against hackers

Smart home security: how to protect your connected home against hackers

The topic of security in the smart home is a controversial one: How well are smart home systems protected from hackers? What about data protection? These five tips can improve security in the smart home.

Tips: How to protect your smart home from hackers

In the meantime, what is the actual state of security in the smart home?? Despite various data protection and security scandals in the past – we think, for example, more or less freely accessible recordings from private surveillance cameras – many providers still have some catching up to do and do not give the topic the necessary priority. There is no other way to explain why security-critical bug fixes are sometimes several weeks or even months in coming. Just a few months ago, the trade magazine c’t showed in a detailed test report that these are not isolated cases:

The editors found hidden microphones in switch sockets, undocumented web front-ends with sensitive information, apps and devices that broadcast one’s own WLAN password in plain text to the world, and even a satellite IP server with unprotected root access that can easily be misused for DDoS attacks.

With home networking on the rise – from the TV to critical areas like the front door – here’s hoping smart home providers do a better job in the future. In the meantime, however, the users are also in demand, after all, security in the smart home can often be significantly improved with just small adjustments. We have compiled five important tips.

Select provider carefully and check privacy policy

When selecting a smart home system, the providers in question should already be checked for security-relevant aspects: Is it an established, reputable provider? Have there been major security problems in the past, such as successful hacker attacks?? Is the software regularly updated by the provider? If you want to further increase safety, it’s better to avoid controlling critical areas: Sure, it can be convenient to open the front door with your smartphone, but hacker attacks or technical problems are much more serious in this area than, for example, smart control of lighting.

Data protection declarations are often clicked away (too) quickly in the course of registration. Instead, it is advisable to check the text more closely: What data does the provider collect and for what purpose?? Where are the data stored? And how can the data be deleted again?

Change default passwords and use secure passwords

Unfortunately, it still happens that manufacturers have their systems with an insecure password (1234, 0000, etc.).) deliver. If this is the case, the password should be changed immediately. It’s best to use at least eight characters, upper and lower case, and special characters (!#%/) as password. Each password should only be used once.

Install security updates promptly to improve security in the smart home

What applies to the PC also applies to the smart home: security updates can protect against hackers or other problems. To this end, not only the respective smartphone apps but also the firmware used on the devices should be kept up to date. Firmware updates can usually be triggered via the settings of the smartphone app. Some providers offer the option to install software updates automatically. If available, the corresponding function should be activated in the settings.

Since not all smart home providers provide timely information about security problems, it is advisable to set up Google Alerts for the relevant search terms (for example, "Philips Hue security"). As soon as the media reports security problems, you are informed of the incident by e-mail and can disconnect the system from the network or apply updates if necessary.

Even if it is difficult: Smart home solutions that are no longer actively marketed and further developed by the manufacturers should be replaced by new systems in the long term with a view to security.

Secure WLAN and use guest access

The home WLAN can also be a gateway for hackers, which is why it should be protected as best as possible. Besides standards like a secure WLAN password and an activated WPA2 encryption, blocking new WLAN devices can be helpful. Additionally, a guest WLAN can be set up to be used exclusively for the smart home devices to isolate the networked devices from your main network (and your sensitive data).

Protect your smartphone sufficiently

Today’s smart home systems are controlled by smartphones, so losing the device poses a particularly high security risk. With a hard-to-guess PIN and additional password protection for the smart home app, the risk can be minimized.

By the way: We keep you up to date on current smart home topics with our free newsletter.

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