We have a lot to look forward to in 2017 – episode VIII of Star Wars; some unexpected celebrity divorces; maybe Bey drops another surprise album; season two of Stranger Things. It’s set to be a year of excitement.
And it’s also unfortunately rumored to be the year of the hacker. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer here, but this is important stuff for consumers to consider as smart home technology becomes more mainstream. The Internet of Things (IoT) is allowing for so much advancement in the smart home space, but it’s also opening a lot of doors for hackers. All that worry you have about using credit cards at big retailers should start to shift to protecting all of your connected devices.
Security cameras, connected thermostats, digital locks, smart home assistants – there’s no doubt these things have made our lives easier, and even offered protection in our everyday lives. Digitally, though, they have made us more and more vulnerable.
The risks of using IoT products is rarely discussed when consumers are shopping around. What is talked about is how cool and easy these products are to use – and, most times, to set up. Just a few clicks and you’re connected and living in the future. Consumers seem unaware about the security risk, or are just so distracted by the ease of use that they don’t consider what is happening behind the scenes to make these things work.
You might be wondering how an innocent item like a digital lock could compromise your personal security. Well, that digital lock is connected to your thermostat, so that your arrival can trigger a temperature change, and to your lights, so that they can come on right away when you get home. And those smart lights know when the bulb is going to burn out, and you set it up so that you get alerted and can reorder. And to make that reorder, you entered your credit card information. So, by hacking your smart lock, the criminals now have access to the other IoT devices on your network, and they can collect your address, personal information, and credit card information.
In recent years, smart home technology has become a hotter and hotter item for holiday gift lists. This just means that more and more devices, and homes, are connected and vulnerable. It’s time that consumers start demanding more from the security of IoT, and that they educate themselves on how to take measures to protect themselves.
The first thing you need to make sure that you do to be smart about your IoT devices in 2017 is to – please, for the love of sweet baby Jesus – change the default usernames and passwords to something complex and hard to guess. You also need to consistently update the software on your devices. Yes, this can get annoying, but many times the software updates includes fixes and patches for security vulnerabilities. Read up on how to use home networks securely. Be proactive.
For now, the government is still working on regulating this industry, so it is up to you to protect yourself.