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Why Security is Crucial for Home Automation

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Nowadays, when the cost of smart homes is rapidly decreasing, security is often overlooked or not implemented due to the cost factor. Read to know why security is crucial for smart homes…

Nowadays, in India you can convert your 2 or 3 bedroom house into smart home with a budget of ₹ 65,000 to ₹ 75,000. With global tech giants entering the smart home space, the price of converting your house into a smart home has been coming down and implementation is simpler. Recently, Amazon launched a range of its personal assistant Echo, starting at ₹ 3,999 and going up to ₹ 14,999. Google has started retailing Google Home starting at ₹ 4,499.

A smart home lets an individual control various aspect of the house remotely. The smart devices are connected to the Internet through the home Wi-Fi, and they relay information to an app on the smartphone. With the integration of Internet-enabled switches, plugs, thermostat, lighting, and various other digital home appliances, with personal assistants like Google Home or Amazon Echo, one can control the connected equipment remotely through a smart device or through voice assistants.

Security Challenges
The opportunities presented by the Internet of Things (IoT), which consumers will access primarily through their smart homes, are vast. A new report from the World Economic Forum and Accenture says the IoT will add $14 trillion of economic value to the global economy by 2030. It estimates that increasing bandwidth and data usage could generate an additional $65 billion in operating profits for Communications Service Providers (CSPs).

As more digital devices and home appliances with Internet capabilities enter the market, protecting those digital devices from hackers becomes crucial. Unfortunately, many of these digital devices from refrigerators to alarm systems were not built with security in mind.

Smart home environments offer control over home security while providing an incredible level of convenience through automation of appliances, lights, cameras and alarm sensors. However, as is the case with all IoT systems, these devices open up the possibility of security and privacy risks through exploitation by malicious hackers. When it comes to the so-called Internet of Things and the smart (connected) home, it is best to proactively secure the home network. Unfortunately, there is no security specific software for a smart TV, but you can always secure your Wi-Fi network so that hacking the smart TV through backdoor doesn’t jeopardizes your smart home.

Unfortunately, smart home environments are increasingly on the mind of hackers as a growing number of consumers who embrace these devices (in their homes) are soft targets. In fact, last year, the Mirai botnet took control of a myriad of smart home devices, such as security cameras, all around the world, forcing them to direct massive amounts of web traffic to take down websites like Twitter and Netflix.

Clearly, these technologies are rapidly expanding throughout our communities, making it essential for both developers and consumers to be smart about reducing security and privacy vulnerabilities to avoid exploitation by hackers.

Securing Smart Homes
Although more and more IoT devices are connected in smart homes, there is a high possibility for hacking. But again, there are several ways to secure smart homes. Adding an additional authentication factor beyond the password, such as a security key or one-time code received by a phone call or SMS to keep unknown people out of smart devices, can be an added advantage. Another crucial factor for consumers to keep in mind is the significance of ensuring security updates, especially on the new devices. Although many people are accustomed to clicking “download later” when a device prompts them to run a software update, this lack of action can make devices vulnerable to dangerous malware, so it is best to avoid problems by running these updates promptly in order to keep all devices secure.

Firewall the network, either with a stand-alone appliance or software that ships with the router, to restrict incoming connections. Most networked IoT devices include information about the ports, network protocols and IP addresses used in the owner’s guide or the support website. Set the firewall to allow traffic on those specific ports and no others. Port restrictions will cut down on opportunistic network-probing attempts.

If you have a highly-connected home, install a Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliance. It will handle intrusion detection and prevention, manage the Internet gateway and provide network antivirus protection. An effective UTM for small-business models is not that expensive and it will have signatures and countermeasures to detect and stop the more common network entry points that attackers will use.

A Brief Conclusion
Smart home environments are one of the many exciting developments to come from the Internet of Things and provided that developers and consumers implement the highest level of security on all devices, we can enjoy the massive benefits of these technologies without exploitation from hackers.

 

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