Paul Routledge, country manager at D-Link

Forming a smart defence

Paul Routledge, country manager of D-Link discusses how to effectively secure your smart home in an era where data is invaluable and the prying eye is out

Nearly half of homes worldwide now have at least one ‘smart’ device connected to the Internet. Bringing Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as voice-enabled assistants, IP CCTV cameras, and smart TVs into our homes can make our lives easier, safer and more entertaining, but also create new opportunities for cybercriminals.

Smart homes are designed to afford consumers more agility and ease, however efforts dedicated to design mean that security features can sometimes take a back seat. Often, it is the devices that we least expect that pose the most risk, For example, Wi-Fi-connected printers process a significant amount of data as it prints, most are sold with a default password, which the wide majority of people never change. Ensuring security in the home includes selecting the right type of Wi-Fi system, to adjusting IoT devices’ security controls to regularly changing passwords.

As recently as July, it was revealed that an IoT hacker had built a botnet capable of “enslaving” 18,000 devices in one day. Once a router is exploited, criminals can launch attacks against the device and remotely execute code to build botnets. Most smart devices from your smart coffee to your thermostat could become infected.

Although manufacturers have a responsibility to build safety features into devices, rapidly evolving threats make it important for the user to take an initiative in mitigating against risks. Unfortunately, some smart devices are built on a budget and not enough attention is paid to making them secure. For example, some manufacturers implement the same simple password for all devices or using outdated core software.

The intentions of a cybercriminal can vary widely. Their attacks can often be targeted at individuals, but often they are collecting information en route to mounting a larger attack to target an organisation or a company. Practising good cyber hygiene in the smart home is a critical first step towards avoiding any nasty surprises!

One thing is certain: cybercriminals will always seek new ways to undermine network security and persistence is what makes them successful. It is the consumer’s responsibility to take care of how smart home networks and devices are managed. A smart way of doing this is through a Wi-Fi management app like D-Link defend, which allows users to centrally manage devices and connections.

Innovations such as smart locks for example, which aim to provide increased security, have in some cases been proven to be easily susceptible to hacks.

However, if you were able to rely on your router to block malicious intruders, you could be giving yourself an advantage. The D-Link EXO router with McAfee protection allows you to block access to known malicious sites, as well as being able to conduct IoT Anomaly and Botnet Detection through the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence database.

Updating passwords and firmware continually renews the protection of devices, but often the most important password to change is the default password. Created by the manufacturers and often the same for all devices produced, default passwords make devices more susceptible to attacks. A common path for botnets to hijack devices is to search for passwords that are hardcoded in devices.

Disconnect devices that don’t need to be connected – the ability to centrally manage smart home devices and systems, allows you to be in control of connections.

Get familiar with security controls on each device and how they can be set to regulate exposure to the Wi-Fi. Consider centrally managed Wi-Fi solutions like D-Link’s EXO router series which includes McAfee protection, and valuable tools that equip parents with more control and ability to protect their kids from inappropriate content, to create a safer more seamless connectivity.

Wi-Fi is the ideal place to start protecting the home. Secure routers with the ability to automate monitoring and ultimately securing home networks are the future of smart home security. D-Link’s EXO router, for example, creates one network throughout your entire home and also includes McAfee protection for every device on the home network. The router also allows you to block access to known malicious sites, and enable IoT Anomaly and Botnet Detection through the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence database, so no security issue goes unresolved.

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