Home automation tools can lower your utility bills and make day to day activities more convenient. However, there are reasons to fear that they can endanger your privacy and even your safety. The device that handily locks your doors remotely when you forget can also be used to unlock them. A gadget with a camera can give unsavoury strangers information about when you are home. An item that stores your credit card information can make it too easy for hackers to use that data to place orders for items that they then steal. To make sure that the rewards of home automation do not come with excessive risk, keep up with the security measures below.
First, Pick Wisely and Install Safely
There are a range of home automation products available at a number of price points. Some companies specialize in automation tools and have put extensive work into the safety and security of their products. Others are jumping on the trend. Research thoroughly, with a strong focus on the security measures a brand has put in to ensure that third parties do not gain access to your private information.
Be careful where you install devices with USB access. Malicious software can be installed on these by anyone who gains physical access to the device.
Once you get the device home and are installing it, make sure that your own system is secure. If your home’s router uses the default password, update it now. Any passwords for the device itself should be known only to you and complex enough that they are not easily guessed by outsiders. WPA2 encryption and hidden networks can also provide enhanced security.
Use Devices in Smart Ways
Once a home automation system is installed, there are many best practices for their use. In some cases, user error is responsible for incursions. Never access a home automation device from a public wi-fi hotspot. These are inherently unsecure and can give hackers access to information that you do not want shared. Likewise, devices should not be accessed from a shared computer at work or on any network that can be accessed by people who are unknown to you.
Do not post about your home automation devices on social media. You never know who is listening. While these devices are novel and fun, sharing that you use them is advertising that it is possible for strangers to get access to your home.
Practice Regular Maintenance
Update passwords on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to provide safety and security. Experts recommend that passwords be changed at least twice a year. Choose passwords that are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Passwords that are too easy often wind up on lists commonly used by hackers for brute force attacks.
You should also be updating applications when new versions become available. The companies that make home automation tools will issue security updates when vulnerabilities are discovered. If you are using out of date versions, you may be making it easier for people with bad intentions.
Check camera logs on your devices to make sure no unknown IP addresses are on the list. If you see an address that you do not recognize, it could be a sign that hackers are using your home automation and security tools to spy on your household.
As our homes and our lives get more digitally connected, new opportunities for hackers will arise. By always carefully assuring that you are using convenience devices in ways that are least likely to leave you vulnerable, you can enjoy the perks of these technologies while avoiding the risks.
ANTHONY GILBERT, President HYPEWIRED