These days, you can control countless things around your house with the touch of a finger to your smartphone screen.
However, there’s also the chance that a hacker can as well.
The more technology takes over, the more at risk we are from hackers. That’s as true for smart homes as it is for your computer. And it doesn’t end there: Cars are increasingly connected as well, meaning a hacker could gain access to your vehicle as well as to your house.
Honey, did you leave the lights on?
A study by Synack, a cybersecurity company, revealed that many smart home technologies need to step up their security. One of their analysts was able to break into a range of devices in anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.
A hacker can gain access to your smart home manually by entering your home and tampering with your router; hacking a stolen phone, taking advantage of a public network or planting malicious malware directly in the appliance before it’s bought and installed.
When it comes to smart home hacking, here are the things you should keep in mind—and the myths you can dismiss.
Locking hackers out
There are a number of ways to prevent smart home hacking. The first step: Make it more difficult for anyone to hack your router.
A hacker will attack your router first because it’s designed to be remotely accessible. Make sure to change the factory set username and password. Stay away from generic passwords like “password” and “123456” that anyone could guess. Experts recommend that you change your password monthly.
Also make sure your router uses WPA2 security. It’s a more secure program that prevents just anyone from just logging on and surfing your net for free or capturing your information.
As soon as you set up your router, make your network private and require a password for access. Also, make sure your data is encrypted to make it harder to use if it is captured.
Hackers can also use a stolen smartphone with apps that control appliances remotely. Protect yourself by making sure your phone requires a pin for access.
Leave car worries in the dust
While it’s difficult to hack a connected car, it’s not impossible. (A recent experiment involving “altruistic” hackers proves it’s entirely possible to hack and disable a car.)
In most cases, a hacker needs to physically tamper with your vehicle in order to gain access to its systems. Yet according to Norton, increasing reliance on wireless systems makes cars more vulnerable to hacking.
Programs in newer cars that use wireless connectivity don’t necessarily encrypt data or have security guards in place to prevent third-party access. That can leave your information vulnerable to anyone savvy enough (and motivated enough) to go after it.
Many of these programs are also connected to core controls, meaning a hacker can gain access through your XM radio. They could then set off your horn, turn your steering wheel or kill your engine before you even realize what’s happening.
This will become a more real concern as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication and wireless interactive displays become more prevalent in cars. Make sure to ask a dealer or seller about security measures before buying a new car that features wireless technology.