How to Protect your Smart Home Video Devices from Hacking

The inexorable march of Internet-enabled home appliances and devices has arrived – with largely amazing results.

From televisions, refrigerators, intruder alarm systems, and especially the ubiquitous home video and closed-circuit television devices (CCTVs, monitors, and the like), they have made life easier for the great majority of households that use them.

The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is in full swing.

And as more and more of these appliances enter markets and homes all over the world, protecting them from exfiltration by and unwarranted snooping from unscrupulous parties (read: hackers) becomes of paramount importance.

Sure, it seems like a great idea that more and more of our devices are getting connected to the Internet, but the hazards are very extremely real.

Every smart home device poses a tantalizing opportunity and an entry point for enterprising cybercriminals licking their chops at the chance to get access to your home – which is supposed to be your castle.

Baby monitors, for instance, can be remotely controlled (well, some of them) to play heavy metal music, while home video devices or phone cameras can be turned on when you don’t expect it and used to snoop on your habits. Smart thermostats can be maliciously turned all the way up or all the way down. The list goes on, but they center around the issue of being easily exploited backdoors to invade your privacy and monitor your habits and tendencies. This information is extremely valuable for any criminal who takes an interest in you.

The fact is, plenty of these devices, home video or otherwise – most of which aren’t computers or smartphones – were neither securely designed nor constructed. That makes every smart device a tantalizing, juicy target for hackers to target. They can be used as remote access backdoors to your very own abode. And it’s like shooting fish in a barrel – even for the most novice cybercriminal.

That being said, how does one protect such Internet-enabled home devices from unwarranted attention from hackers, burglars, or bad people, especially given the fact that none of these IoT devices are created with antivirus capabilities or software in mind?

All is not lost, however. More and more people are now getting increasingly concerned about their privacy and how their data is treated by such devices, in the wake of massive breaches of personal information on smart devices.

Here’s how you can safeguard your smart home video as well as the rest of your Internet-enabled appliances at home.

1. Safeguard Your Home Wireless Network

The easiest way to protect your smart home devices is also among the most overlooked. However, simply changing the encryption on your home network from the unsecured WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) protocol to the WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) protocol is already an excellent start. Don’t forget to use a strong password.

2. Regulate Wi-Fi Access For Your Devices

An excellent security practice is to clearly delineate access to your smart devices by creating a separate Wi-Fi network strictly for your IoT devices, and another for computers and smartphones. Most routers can handle more than one SSID to use, and can serve as an additional point of failure in your perimeter security, which you can easily isolate and shut down in a hacking event.

3. Use Strong Passwords Every Time

Never leave your devices with the same password it came in out of the box. Change each password for each device to something complex, and change them every so often. This reduces the possibility of a brute-force attack from would-be attackers gaining access to your home devices, video or otherwise.

4. Never Give Out More Personal Information Than You Should

By now, most of us should know that a lot of the services we agree to prior to signing up for them allows such services to sell our information to other third parties for marketing purposes (hello Facebook). While it is inevitable for us to register our smart devices in order to use them (and in doing so consent to our info being sold or given away), you don’t have to give ALL your information just willy-nilly. If it isn’t required information on the registration form, don’t give it for free.

Remember: the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.

5. Don’t Ditch Updates

Vulnerabilities on smart home devices are discovered on a daily basis. This is exactly the reason why you should never ignore annoying prompts for firmware and software updates for your smart home devices – known issues pose a treasure chest for cybercriminals, making you a sitting duck to be targeted. Keep your devices updated.

6. Don’t Trade Expediency for Security

It’s so easy for many of us to err on the side of expediency and convenience over following best practices for security. It’s a troubling pattern that many consumers are too accustomed to practicing. This includes using the same easy-to-guess password for every smart home device, using the exact same factory settings as the video device was shipped in, etc. If you don’t want your home monitoring and other internet-enabled devices to be easy targets for enterprising attackers, look at security as an ongoing process that requires practice and fine-tuning.

While there is no way to be 100% secure from being the subject of a hacking attack, you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of being a victim by performing simple steps to make it harder for attackers to breach your perimeter. Start now.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.
Tom Parillo

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