We’re not suggesting that the typical burglar has added a laptop to his traditional striped top, mask and duffle bag with ‘Swag’ printed on it, but as crime rates climb, it increases in the cyber realm as much as it does on the streets. Criminals aren’t the kind of people to let opportunities slip past them, and once the thief or burglar catches on to the fact that they can use wireless technology to make their lives of crime easier, they certainly will.
The ways that criminals can take advantage of your incorrectly secured wireless home network can manifest themselves in several ways, many of which we’ve probably never thought of yet, but they currently include identity theft, credit and debit card data scraping and cloning, disabling security cameras and controlling webcams. It’s a truism to say that you wouldn’t go out and leave the house unlocked, but if you don’t lock down your home wifi network, that’s exactly what you’re doing with your data, and, as Wi-Fi enabled access control becomes more prevalent, your front door too.
The Steps You Can Take To Secure Your WiFi Identity
1 Assess Your Needs
Talk to your family about what exactly it is they expect and want from living in a wireless smart environment. What is important, and what would they be willing to forego for the sake of protecting your home? Talk about pets (a lot of people think it’s important to have a home camera with a mic and speaker to talk to the dog while they’re at work), the nanny, or carer if you have elderly or disabled people living at home, and consider how voice control could assist those members of your household. If they have limited mobility, Parkinson’s or epilepsy, or a condition where they can be reminded to take their medication a home assistant would be invaluable for their quality of life.
2 Do Your Homework
Research the different products which are currently available on the market. Look at what is in your budget, their security, and their functionality. You could end up spending a lot of money on a device which is all whistles and bells, but only one of which you ever end up using. Instead, read up on professional and consumer reviews, product descriptions and speak to professional retailers and installers. Speaking to the kid who’s Saturday job it is to stand next to the tech so it doesn’t get pinched is one thing, but talking to a reputable retailer about your requirements and the best devices for your needs & budget is quite another.
3 Professional Installations
When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to get a professional to handle the installation. They can put in the hardware and other infrastructure, and you can add additional devices as you buy them, according to the security recommendations your installers give you. Professional installers can not only install and wire your router, they can also install CCTV cameras inside and out, carry out overhead work, do all the drilling and cable fitting that’s required. They will be insured and able to ensure that any wireless security device is communicating efficiently and exclusively with your network. They’ll also be able to talk you through safely and securely adding new devices, the capabilities and operating instructions of the good they’re selling you, and answer all of your questions.
4 Expandability and Futureproofing
As the number of IoT devices grows, it’s natural that you’re going to end up having more and more of them in your home. Some will come with obvious benefits, and others not so much. A wireless potted plant minder will tell you when your aspidistra needs watering, but it’s not likely to do it for you. However, because it’s networked it needs to be password protected, otherwise it is a vulnerability in your secure network. This is a consideration which you’re going to have to give to every new piece of electronic equipment you buy in the future.
5 Professional Help
Think about who it is you’re going to ask in the event of an emergency. When you lock yourself out, forget your passwords, break a key piece of equipment and can’t regain control of your network, think about who it is you can ask for help. It may not be something which is covered in the manual, customer support can be limited, costly, and inconvenient if they only keep office hours.
So, your data home is as much your home as your house is, so don’t leave the door unlocked to hackers. While data security is a key issue for you, it may not be for those companies who manufacture the goods you buy. After all, what does a fridge builder or light bulb manufacturer care about internet security? So it’s down to you to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken to either safely secure the devices onto your network, or turn off their connective capacity until such time as you want to add it. As the end user, it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure the security of your data home, and that you don’t leave access open to hackers who want to get access to your network, or piggybackers who simply want to steal your broadband by using your wireless data instead of paying for their own.
If your plant minder can be hacked to reveal security breaches in your home network, your fitness tracker can be hacked to reveal details of your exercise habits, your route, and your schedule so they can find out when you’re going to be out, and how long for. 70% of people in a recent survey by Internet Of Things: Connected Homes are somewhat or extremely concerned about data security vulnerability thanks to connected devices. And hopefully that number will rise, rather than decrease over time, because the issue of data security is one that’s not going to go away. The motto of everyone who has a Wi-Fi connection in the home should be “always assume you’re vulnerable.”
The problem with many IoT devices is that they don’t have screens or keyboards with which you can easily interface with them. This makes it difficult and frustrating to secure, since you need to do it from your central admin device. It makes sense to bar them from your network unless you can see the benefit of attaching them. Simply look after the basics. Don’t add what you don’t need and password protect everything with long, complex passwords. Easy and effective. Look at your Wi-Fi router too. ‘Wireless Equivalent Privacy’ is very basic and not particularly effective. Instead, select WPA2 and turn off wireless admin. Without wireless admin the only way to add, remove or change any settings is to be directly connected to the router via a cable.
Give your Wi-Fi network an obscure name too. Don’t use your address, name or product name as any of these data can be used to identify you or the means by which to hack your network. And, if your router is able to perform this function, create two channels. One for your internet access, your browsing, streaming, banking and social media et cetera, and another for your smart home devices to talk to one another, and create a firewall to protect each.
In addition to the active steps you can take to keep your network secure, ensure that your malware and antivirus software is always up to date. Malwarebytes and AdBlock not only prevent viruses, they stop pop-ups too and advertising too, a common method of installing malware and trojan horse attacks.