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Home Automation Security: How to Safeguard Your Smart Home

Aug 01, 2023|

One of the most common questions around smart home security systems is: are they really secure?

And the answer?

Absolutely.

But we can understand why people worry. After all, there’s no security device, especially in the Internet of Things, that is 100% secure. And being exposed to news and social media reports on cyberattacks can compound the fear factor.

Creators of smart home technology are constantly developing new ways to make their smart home security devices more secure. At the end of the day, the chances of someone breaking through your smart security system are extremely slim.

But there are still some things that will make your smart home more secure.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • What common security vulnerabilities exist with smart home security systems.
  • The biggest ways to protect your home against security threats.
  • The best practices for maintaining a smart home security system.

Let’s now learn about the most common security threats that we see in smart homes—with very simple and effective security solutions.

Man checking his phone in his garage.
 

Common security vulnerabilities with smart homes

As we mentioned, security vulnerabilities exist. Knowing the most common vulnerabilities can help you better protect yourself against them.

Here are a few of the biggest vulnerabilities in smart home security gadgets and how to protect yourself:

  • Weak or default passwords. Your password is the first layer of defense against malware attacks. Always update your password to one that is unique and strong—default passwords just won’t cut it. Also, consider using an additional authentication method.
  • Outdated firmware and software. When you fail to update firmware and software on your security devices, holes can develop in your security. To get the most out of your IoT security, check regularly for updates and set up automatic security updates whenever possible.
  • Unsecured cloud storage and communication. When you fail to assign a password to your cloud storage and communication, it can give hackers access to your stored security video and personal data.
  • Physically unsecure devices. The more people that can physically access your devices, the less secure your smart home is. So make sure that all of your devices, including your router and Wi-Fi networks, are secure. This is a relatively simple solution, but it can have a profound effect on your security.

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Protecting your smart home

The great thing is that you don’t need a degree in computer science or cybersecurity to protect yourself from cyber criminals—you just need some basic understanding of how your network operates.

And we’re here to help with a few simple strategies to make your smart home more secure.

Network security

There are a couple of different ways that you can enhance your network security.

Firewalls

These security devices act as a barrier between your home network and a public network like the Internet. The firewall monitors network traffic and prevents unauthorized access while only allowing authenticated traffic to enter.

VPNs

For additional protection, you can also use a VPN, or virtual private network.

VPNs encrypt the information on your network so that even if someone were to intercept your private information, they wouldn’t be able to read your data.

Secondly, VPNs hide your IP address, which is the unique identifier that tells people who and where you are online. With your IP address hidden, hackers will be unable to track your online activity back to your home.

Router settings

There are also several router settings that you can change to make your home network more secure.

For starters, disable your router’s remote access, UPnP, and WPS. These are areas that can create vulnerabilities in your network.

Next, hide your SSID (service set identifier), which is the name of your Wi-Fi network. This can prevent unauthorized users from finding your network.

Finally, create a guest network for visitors to use—this will limit access to your personal network and protect your information.

Phone screen with the Vivint app open.
 

Device security

Then there’s the security on your individual devices—your second layer of defense.

Your IoT devices—smart door locks, smart TVs, and smart speakers like Amazon Alexa or Google Home—can be even more protected by following these steps to safeguard against security risks.

Let’s explore the two main ways that you can enhance the security of your devices.

Strong password

Choosing a strong password that won’t be easy to guess or decode. This means at least 12 characters long with a healthy mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Avoid using personal information that people can find, such as your name, birthday, or anniversary.

And finally, change your password regularly. This will limit your device’s vulnerability.

Two-factor authentication (2FA)

This extra option allows you to set up a second way to confirm your identity. When using 2FA, you will enter your password and then receive a unique code that is sent to your phone number or email. Only once you enter this code will you be granted access.

Add passwords and 2FA to your security devices, including security cameras, smart thermostats, and video doorbells. In most cases, you can simply go into your device’s security settings, where you’ll find options to set up a password and 2FA.

In addition to these security measures, make sure to keep your devices’ firmware up-to-date so that you have all the latest security patches in place.

Data privacy and personal information

Now that you’ve secured your network and devices, it’s time to limit access to your private information and sensitive information on your smart home devices.

Here are a few of the most important ways to protect your information:

  • Don’t share your passwords. Or at least limit the number of people who have your password to the most essential. The more people who have your password, the bigger the chance other people could get their hands on it.
  • Don’t use the same passwords. Change up your passwords for your security devices to make sure that they’re different from your other devices and programs.
  • Manage your privacy settings. Your privacy settings allow you to set what your device can access at any time. For example, you can set restrictions on whether your device records your voice, tracks your location, or shares your information with third-party companies. Make sure to be conscious what access you allow in these settings to minimize security vulnerabilities.

This essential step not only keeps your home and loved ones safe but also guards you against identity theft and other dangers.

Man making a phone call from his couch.
 

Best practices for smart home security

Let’s consider a few of the smart home security best practices that can make a big difference in your home’s security.

  • Update your software regularly. We’ve said this before, but it’s important enough to repeat. Software updates and security patches are vital to a secure smart home.
  • Invest in reputable smart home devices. Reputable providers like Vivint go the extra mile to create smart home automation devices with top security features. Reputable providers will also stay on top of necessary updates to keep your devices secure for the long term.
  • Monitor your device activity. You’re the best judge of your activity. You are the one who will be able to recognize devices that don’t belong on your network or anything else that doesn’t look right.
  • Set up notifications for suspicious behavior. Certain security programs have algorithms to recognize suspicious behavior—anything outside of your normal activity. But you need to set them up to take full advantage of this.

Secure your home with Vivint

As a homeowner, you want to make sure that your home automation systems are completely secure. We hope this information about enhancing network and device security helps you to deal with security issues and protect yourself from malicious activity.

Would you like a smart home system with security that you can trust? Vivint is here for you.

Learn more about how Vivint’s smart devices and 24/7 home monitoring can protect your home and family from any security threat that comes your way.

Give us a call today at 855.822.1220.

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