Devices vs. Services: Home Security in the Age of the Internet of Things

by Matty ByloosJuly 30, 2018

How to Protect Your IoT Devices From Hackers

Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the services that run them have made life more convenient for those who own them. IoT devices communicate with each other over the home’s wireless or wired network. An example of how these devices work would be using your smartphone to control the thermostat, the entry door’s lock, the lighting, and more.

But, as many homeowners have unfortunately found out, having a home full of IoT devices can leave you open to those who would do you harm. In fact, DigitalTrends.com recently published an article about how smart homes are being used in domestic abuse cases.

Home security is a concern, especially with many vendors rushing the production of their IoT products to market so they can take advantage of the tremendous boom in home automation popularity. Industry experts predict that by the year 2025, 80 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. Keeping your devices and services secure is and will be a major priority.

device security

Security Starts With Your Router

With every new IoT device or appliance, you add to your home, you’re opening another portal for hackers to get into your home’s network. This is like leaving your front door wide open while you’re away for the day at work.

To strengthen your home’s security, you must first secure your wireless network. Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol is still used by many routers, but over the years, it has weakened to the point that hackers can usually bypass it. Instead, secure your router using the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol.

You should also change the name of your network to something random. Don’t use names or words that relate to who you are. Create a complex password for your network will also tighten up your network’s security.

In your router’s diagnostics, disable the guest network access feature. This will give you more control over who can get on your network.

Create Two Networks for Your Home

Several of the top router manufacturers include a feature in their products that allow the user to create two separate network connections within a single router. If your router has this capability, then you should use it. You should use one network for your computers, tablets, and smartphones, and the other one for your IoT devices. By taking this approach, your online shopping and banking activity will be on a separate network from your more hackable IoT devices.

device security

Use Strong Password Management

As inconvenient as it is, you never want to use the same password for all your devices. Instead, create unique, complex passwords for every single one. For even stronger security, create different usernames for every device and any web pages that require you to log in.

Port Restrictions and Firewall

IoT devices and appliances are manufactured with or without port restrictions. Those without this feature are essentially wide-open on the Internet. By activating the device’s port restrictions, it limits the device’s traffic to only the ports you allow.

The home network should also be protected by a strong firewall. Your device’s operating manual will provide you with the information you need to know about making allowances in your firewall for your device.

device security

Disable Remote Access Where Applicable

One of the most convenient aspects about IoT devices is that you can control them from anywhere with your smartphone or tablet if you have an Internet connection. But, odds are you have appliances that you don’t need to control remotely. Disabling the remote access feature on these appliances will strengthen your overall network. This also applies to any Internet-based features in your auto. For example, some autos offer Facebook connectivity. If you don’t use it, then the feature should be disabled.

The Internet is a vast and wonderful thing. It provides us with innumerable opportunities and conveniences. It entertains and enlightens us. But, it can also be a breeding ground for thieves and hackers. And, with every new connected device you own, you are more and more likely to become a victim.

The sad truth is, hackers evolve new tricks every day, so even with the strictest security protocols in place, you’re never 100% fully protected. The best you can do is protect your network and devices as well as you can, and never get complacent thinking that they can’t be breached.

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About The Author
Matty Byloos
Matty is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. He's a newly minted homeowner who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, working on the house, and enjoying the amazing nature that the city has to offer. He is also the founder of NOVEL Creative Agency.