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October 10th

Tips on Securing Your Smart Home and Protect Your Privacy

On 12 October 2020, there were media reports of the alleged hacking of Internet protocol (IP) home security cameras in Singapore. A hacker group gained access to 50,000 IP home security cameras. They uploaded some of the contents on pornographic websites, tagging the videos as being from Singapore. But there have been no independent verifications that the clips are from Singapore homes although there is reports saying that they look like a typical layout of HDB homes in Singapore.

Notably, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the police are handling the issue. They stated their concern over the “weak security provisions” of most Internet-of-things (IoT) devices. The officers also explained how illegal it is for hackers to upload obscene materials for monetary gain. Moreover, they advised the public on the precautions they can take to secure their devices. 

Use of a Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme

CSA recently launched one for consumer IoT and smart devices. It operates by helping users identify products that have more extensive cybersecurity features. The scheme uses a four-level rating system. Initially, it covers routers and smart home hubs, but it will soon include other IoT devices.

Changing the Default Username and Password

Make sure to change your routers and IoT device’s default username and password. It’s considered good cyber hygiene. Most hackers know the default usernames and passwords. Thus, making it easy for them to access your devices.

Also, change to a more robust, unique password every 60 to 90 days. Try and be creative when changing the username.  You can use a rare name with no association with you and your public information.

Carry Out Software Updates

The devices contain vulnerabilities in their software that developers work nonstop to improve. Hence the need to update your firmware. Mostly, the updates don’t happen automatically. Thus, it would be advisable if you did manual checks to find the pending updates.

Notably, perform the checks every few months and download and update them straight away. Hackers won’t be able to access your camera using the vulnerabilities in the older versions. Also, your devices will be up-to-date for better performance.

Disable the Devices When Not In Use

You can switch off the devices you are not using. Thus, minimizing the risk of getting hacked. Also, it is advisable to restrict some features such as remote viewing of camera footage. In most cases, the feature is usually enabled by default.

Two-Factor Authentication

Having a strong password is the foremost step to securing your devices. You can take it further by enabling two-factor authentication. It involves a second form of authentication by providing extra proof of identity when login.

Mostly a digit code gets sent via text message or an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator. Thus, it is hard for a hacker to log in to your account even if they have your password.

Separate Your Network

It is not advisable to have all your devices connected to the same network. Separate your primary network for sensitive data such as your laptop from your other IoT devices. Also, you can have a separate system for friends and guests different from IoT devices.

Notably, it can get done by creating secondary networks for guests on your router. Hence, using it for smart home devices. In case one network gets attacked, the other will be safe from the malware.

Carefully Choose Where to Buy Your Devices

Some hackers may use the manufacturer’s internal systems to gain access to your devices. Mostly, the big well-known brands tend to invest a lot in the security of their products. They ensure their products have security features during manufacturing and design. Also, they release software updates to improve the software’s security.

Exercise Placement Discretion

Be watchful of where you place your cameras in your home. Try and avoid placing them in private and sensitive areas. Thus, even when under attack, the hackers will not use your intimate moments against you.

Use a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW)

Adding NGFW to your router’s built-in firewall could go a long way in improving security. It enhances security functionalities such as intrusion prevention systems, and QoS management.

Others include SSL/SSH interception and virtual private network (VPN), and content filtering. Hence, it’s more powerful in detecting and protecting from cyberattacks. Although the NGFW is relatively expensive, they are an excellent and worthy investment.

Over to You

It’s evident from the Singapore attack, that you should take extra precautions with your smart home’s security. As much as the devices make your life more comfortable, making them more secure is of the essence. The incident will have mental and psychological impacts on the victims.

Moreover, it’s important to note that free hacking tools are easily accessible through the internet. Hence, the need to research before you buy any smart device. As you are willing to spend money to make a smart home, be ready to invest money and time, making it secure.

Talk to us today to understand more on how we can help you identify smart home devices vulnerable to hacks.


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