Wireless home security systems help provide great peace of mind, with their sensors communicating with one another wirelessly to protect you from intruders, smoke, fire, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, flooding, and more.
A wireless system is also easier to install than a wired one and doesn’t require the kinds of home modifications that a wired one would. It’s also easy to take with you if you move residences. When you are away from home, you can use your smartphone and an ADT app to control and monitor your security systems.
However, the wireless connectivity does demand some vigilance on your part to ensure your security system remains secure. By employing some smart home device security best practices, you can minimize the risk of compromise and boost your level of protection.
Smart Home Devices Vulnerable to Cyberattacks
Smart home devices are part of what is called the “internet of things” (IoT), so they serve both in their traditional functions (as light bulbs, cameras, garage door openers, and so on) as well as being interconnected mini-computers that connect to the internet. In this latter function, as they continuously collect data through sensors, they are vulnerable to the same kind of hacking as any computer or website.
Vulnerable devices include:
Most at risk: Outdoor devices employ few if any security protocols, including garage door openers, wireless doorbells, and smart sprinklers.
Somewhat at risk: Inside devices with weaknesses in security tokens or communication protocols. These include iot devices that are controlled by an app on a smartphone or computer, such as smart light bulbs, smart switches, security cameras, baby monitors, smart door locks, smart thermostats, and personal home assistants.
Least at risk: Smart home appliances, such as refrigerators and coffee makers.
Even though it is funny to think of a refrigerator as a security risk, if the appliance is part of a smart network, a hacker might choose it as a relatively easy way to get into your system, perhaps uncovering your security information or turning off your security cameras.
To Secure Your Smart Home, Start With Your Wi-Fi Router
Your home network’s Wi-Fi router acts as a traffic cop, controlling and vetting as much as possible the information going in and out of your home. But it can also be a weak link. If a virtual intruder compromises the routers, they can get access to your home devices and systems and your personal information, and do harm.
Most routers come with built-in protections, but sometimes, there are gaps, including:
Not automatically updating firmware with the latest security patches
Allowing weak or default passwords
Allowing multiple failed login attempts
How to Make Your Wi-Fi Network More Secure
The good news is that you can take some basic precautions to make your router safer. These would require you to access your router settings, which might involve typing an IP address in a web browser or working through an app on your smartphone, depending on the manufacturer.
These router fail-safes include:
Change your passwords
Make your passwords unique and difficult
Use the best security standard
Ensure the firmware is up to date
Disable access and settings
Enable a separate network
Hide your network
Turn off your wireless network when you’re away
Place your router in the middle of the house
Change Your Passwords
Pick different Wi-Fi passwords regularly. While this may be an inconvenience, because you will have to reconnect all of your home devices, it increases security. You should also change the password for the router itself, making things harder for a hacker who knows and is ready to exploit its default settings.
Make Your Passwords Unique and Difficult
The passwords you choose shouldn’t be easy to guess (your address, for example, or child’s birthday). If your router and Wi-Fi system don’t demand more complex passwords, then take it upon yourself to develop one. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, you can use one of the available password-management programs.
Use the Best Security Standard
If your router doesn’t have WP42 set as its security default, then switch it on in your router settings. This requires every new device to submit a password to connect.
Ensure the Firmware Is Up to Date
The router’s functions – including security standards for the network – is run by firmware. If the router doesn’t automatically update its firmware to the latest version, then you should do it yourself through the router settings.
Disable Access and Settings
Many routers make it easy to access your home network remotely. If you don’t need administrative-level access away from home, you can turn off the settings (most remote-access apps don’t need these). Also, you should turn off Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), designed to make it easy for devices like games consoles and smart TVs to access the web.
Additionally, turn off the Wi-Fi protected setup (WPS), which lets you connect new devices easily with a button or PIN code. It makes it easier to gain unauthorized access.
Enable a Separate Network
Since all of your home security devices are on the same network, it’s a good idea to have a separate network to keep them isolated and safe. For example, some routers provide you the option of enabling a guest network that friends and visitors can use when they are in your home. And it just puts one more speed bump in the way of someone trying to hack your system.
Hide Your Network
Hackers can’t hack what they can’t find. Use your router settings to hide your network from automatic searches. Also, don’t name your network after your family name, address, or something else that identifies who you are. You want to be as anonymous as possible.
Turn Off Your Wireless Network When You’re Away
When you are away from your home for an extended period, it’s a good idea to turn off your Wi-Fi router and any connected devices. This gives hackers fewer opportunities to break into your network, especially when you’re not around to notice the intrusion.
Place Your Router in the Middle of the House
If you move your router away from outside walls, its signal won’t stretch so far outside and possibly be interfered with. Also, placement in the center will help the signal reach all parts of the home.
Just as you should update your router firmware, you should also make sure all your computer software is up to date (with the latest security patches), including, and especially, your anti-virus software. You should also set up a firewall for added security in protecting your home network.
Keep Your Phone Safe When You’re Away From Home
If you use your smartphone to monitor and control your smart home security devices remotely, then you should also take precautions. For example, it’s a good idea not to use a free public Wi-Fi system, which puts your phone at a greater chance of being hacked.
Instead, rely on your mobile data service or wait until you are in a trusted network, like your office’s. Or, if you must use public Wi-Fi, you can put a VPN (virtual private network) app on your phone that uses an encrypted connection to funnel communications.
Other smartphone safety tips include:
Updating your phone operating system and apps to the latest versions, which often include the most recent security protections.
Making sure that your phone locks automatically, so if you lose it or it gets stolen, your personal information can’t be retrieved.
Keeping your mobile number private. The fewer people that have it, the less chance you have of hacker attacks. You can also add a second line to your phone, shielding your main phone number from people.
Using two-factor authentication. While inconvenient, it provides another layer of protection if someone gets your phone’s password.
Watch Who’s Watching Your Video Camera
Wireless home IP cameras also are at risk of hacking, which, in a home security system, might let an intruder spy on you and give them access to the alarm system, perhaps turning it off or opening the front door if it is a doorbell camera.
To keep your video camera safe, you should:
Change your password for your camera system regularly, using complex passwords.
Check your camera logs to see who is accessing your home security system.
Never buy a used camera, since this would be easier to compromise.
Have advanced safety features, such as encryption, scrambling the signals to thwart unwanted spies.
Your best bet for getting a state-of-the-art video camera with the latest security precautions is through a trusted security system provider such as ADT. This includes service-wide encryption, login failure lockout, and strong password enforcement. While the camera allows data backup through secured cloud connections, it also has an SD slot that allows local storage.
In fact, all ADT smart home devices feature advanced security features, including encryption and password protection.
A Leader in Home Security Systems
At ADT, we ensure that your security system provides you the best protection possible with industry-leading smart home technology, highly rated for their built-in safety features. As an industry leader for 145 years, we can help you find a home security solution that suits your particular needs.
Our different home security packages (which can all be customized to you) include 24/7 monitoring, security monitoring equipment, monitored fire, flood, and carbon monoxide detection, and professional installation. Additional features can include remote arming and disarming capabilities, setup with smart home automation, and customizable alerts, schedules, and automations.
Contact us today to learn more or get expert support with your existing ADT security system.