Thursday, April 3, 2014

A new way to break into your home


We have all seen commercials for a fully connected or “smart” home. A few of you are signing up for a full package and many of you are starting to install a few WiFi enabled devices and appliances in your homes such as an alarm system you can set through your phone, a WiFi enabled security camera or baby monitor that you can watch remotely and a thermostat to set the temperature of your home while you are away. Manufacturers are in a race to connect every object in your home through WiFi or Bluetooth as consumer interest peaks while prices continue to decline. It won’t be long before your refrigerator, toaster and potentially every other appliance in your home is interconnected. However, these systems come with real security risks so you should pay attention.

Hackers are in fact, getting into those devices and doing real damage. If you perform a Google Search for “hacking baby monitor”, you can see thousands of articles about the problem.  Hackers are getting into all sorts of Wifi and Bluetooth devices in people’s homes. Some hackers are doing harmless pranks while others are using these devices to break into homes.

One solution is to not place any of these objects in your home but I’m certainly not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that you become aware of vulnerabilities and pay more attention. Here are some basic things for you to do:

1. Almost all of the devices come with some preinstalled password by default. You must reset those passwords to something new. This has been a problem since the first answering machine was installed in a home. To access the answering machine, you just call the phone number and press * followed by the code. Very few people changed the code from the default and hackers have been having fun with people’s answering machines ever since.

2. Make sure your WiFi Router in your home is security protected and again doesn’t use the default password provided by the manufacturer. If a hacker can get into your Router, he has open access to everything.

3. Know what is connected in your home. Keep and update a list. Check the User Guide for each of these devices to find out if and how it’s encrypted and how you can update security settings

4. Most importantly, pay attention to security issues and ask a lot of questions before you get the next connected device.

We’re well into a new age of connectivity.  We’ve all heard horror stories about computers getting hacked. You are going to start to read more and more about home security systems, electronic door locks and other “ordinary” household appliances being hacked. Be sure you can get ahead of the problem.

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