It’s not uncommon today for a home to be equipped with security gear, home monitoring equipment and other internet enabled IoT devices, like IP cameras and wireless monitors. But the benefits of securing a home through new technologies can also bring risks, as a mother in Long Island recently learned first-hand.
According to WPIX, the Nest camera purchased for the home was hacked by a stranger who tried to have a conversation with her five-year-old son. In this case, the good intentions of using Nest as a ‘nanny cam’ became a scary endeavor.
The boy was accustomed to talking with his father via the Nest cam – a home monitoring system users can connect through their cell phones – on a daily basis after he returned home from school. But, on this particular occasion, a complete stranger was on the other end.
According to the mother, her son came running out of the playroom saying, “It’s not daddy talking to me. It’s not daddy.” When she walked into her child’s playroom, the ominous voice addressed her directly.
This type of situation is, unfortunately becoming more common. We’ve now seen many similar situations where IoT devices – for home use or otherwise – have been hacked by cybercriminals hoping to obtain information they can use for nefarious purposes. At the same time the number of IoT devices coming to market continues to increase, with the global number expected to reach 10 billion by 2020 and 22 billion by 2025.
“We are seeing a growing number of vulnerabilities with connected-home devices that are easy for hackers to exploit,” said Luis Corrons, security evangelist from Avast. “As demonstrated in recent attacks on Jeep, Vtech, Nest, and Mattel products, skilled hackers can break into internet connected products in minutes. Because these IoT devices will be an easy target for the foreseeable future, consumers need to understand and implement measures to protect themselves from malicious actors.”
The good news is, homeowners can take simple measures to prevent hacking, and use their connected home security devices and all other IoT devices with confidence. Here are five recommendations:
1. Take an inventory all of the devices you have connected to the internet
In addition to your cameras and monitors, you likely also have laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, game consoles and more connected to the web. All of these devices can contribute to hackers gaining access to your information and other devices in your home. Maintaining an audit of these devices will help you manage protection, so you can keep all of them safe.
2. Listen for strange noises coming from your camera or monitors
It’s not always easy to tell if your IP devices have been infiltrated by hackers. But, it can be done. One of the ways to detect a breach is to listen for odd noises coming out of your camera or monitor. If you hear someone’s voice or conversations coming through, you should look at your webcam’s privacy settings. Go into the admin settings, change the default password to one unique to you.
3. Check the data spikes on your network
By tracking the data flow to your home network, and on your security camera and monitor, you can often detect whether or not someone has infiltrated your home system. Pay special attention to sudden spikes in your network traffic, which can mean there’s been an suspicious login to one or more of your IoT devices.
4. Protect connected devices with strong passwords
Choosing not to password protect your connected devices is the digital equivalent of leaving your home or car unlocked. Smart devices today ship with default username and passwords that are easy for cybercriminals to discover and compromise, so it’s important to make your password unbreakable. Use a password manager that does all the remembering for you. It can remember the passwords to all your other accounts and generate strong passwords that are difficult to crack. Try Avast Passwords for free, or get it along with a suite of other great security tools when you download Avast Free Antivirus.
5. Install a smart home protection system that also protects your security devices
It’s always smart to install a home protection solution that is designed to protect your network and all of your devices, including your security cameras and monitors. Even better, purchase an intelligent solution that uses artificial intelligence to learn how to detect unusual behavior in your network and devices and immediately notifies you of malicious activity. Avast Smart Home Security keeps your home and family safe by protecting your connected devices from malware and device hijacking.
As you embark on your journey to protect your home security and other connected devices, remember, while the devices themselves might not contain sensitive information, they could leave the door to your larger network and all of your connected products wide open. While IoT was conceived to make our lives simpler, security is something that we’ll always have to take seriously.