Are Smart Homes a Security Risk

Why are Smart Homes a Security Risk?

April 20, 2022


Smart homes aren’t just a thing of the future – they exist in our current day and age, too. Smart homes, also known as automated homes, are dwellings that contain automation systems that can control various attributes in the house, including climate, entertainment, lighting, and even appliances. Some smart homes even incorporate higher-level home security, including access systems and monitoring.

You might be thinking – wow, that’s a great idea. What could possibly be wrong with automated homes? Well, as cool as a smart home may be, they’re also possible entryways for cybercriminals to attack home networks and steal sensitive financial information. Here’s the lowdown.

Cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated.

In recent years, Canada has seen a significant spike in cybercrime. In 2020, a CyberEdge report stated that 72% of Canadian organizations were hit by a ransomware attack. Although this number dropped in 2021, it’s still well over 50% and it seems that the stay-at-home orders of COVID-19 and the adaptation of more AI-based technology for many enterprises has contributed to the issue.

But that’s just businesses. Cybercrime is targeting private networks, too. Cyber criminals will target weak networks or infiltrate private systems through phishing scams to access sensitive information, including credit cards, financial reports, and more. As the years have gone by, cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in the ways they can infiltrate businesses and private households. Scam emails seem more legitimate. Attacks are tougher. Networks can be compromised without us even knowing it.

How do cyber criminals target smart homes?

How does this relate to smart homes, then? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Hackers can unlock front doors, access stored credit card information, and even view what is going on inside the home. Many homeowners who utilize automated home systems may not fully comprehend the risk that their smart homes pose and may not incorporate added cyber security measures, like two-factor authentication or multiple passwords. Typically, smart home systems will have the option for two-factor authentication, but the homeowner will need to manually select that option.

Even by having a phone you’re at risk of a cyber attack. A smart home is just another means of getting through to your private information. It’s important that, as technology begins to evolve, so do we. Practicing proper cyber hygiene and purchasing cyber insurance are some of the best ways to significantly reduce your risk of being the victim of a cyber attack.

Tips for Home Cyber Protection

Due to the risk that cyber attacks pose, from identity theft to ransomware, it’s important that you and your household fully acknowledge the importance of proper cyber hygiene. Consider the following tips:

  • Make sure your system is set for automatic updates and that your web browsers and plugins (Java, Flash, etc.) are regularly updated as well.
  • Use a password management tool and always use complex, strong passwords. It is advised to have eight or more characters using a combination of lower case and upper case, numbers, and symbols. Never use the same password twice.
  • Install anti-virus software and firewall.
  • Use multi-factor authentication. A pin or password combined with a biometric, like a fingerprint, is a good way to strengthen your cybersecurity.
  • Make sure to tell your family about phishing scams and educate them on what a phishing email might look like. Make sure to delete any suspicious emails.
  • Mobile malware is a rising issue, too. Make sure to regularly backup your phone, keep it updated, and install apps only from trusted sources. Make sure your passcode or PIN is difficult to guess and does not use your bank PIN or birthdate.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi. If you must, use a VPN.
  • Always check your credit reports and online accounts to see if there are any unusual changes that you don’t remember making.

Cyber hygiene may sound like a lot to remember, but it can become commonplace when practiced enough. Ensure that your family is on the same page as you. Just one opened phishing scam can compromise your entire home network! For kids especially, you may want to limit their usage or monitor them while they are using the internet.

Finally, consider cyber insurance. Personal cyber insurance can protect you from the financial consequences of ransomware, the costs to restore your identity, and even legal fees if the information that is stolen and/or leaked results in a lawsuit. Ask Excalibur Insurance for more information about personal cyber insurance to cover data breaches, extortion, fraud, and more.

Does having a smart home compromise your personal network?

Does having a smart home automatically mean that your home network is compromised? Not necessarily. While a smart home can be an entryway for cyber criminals, you can implement the same cyber hygiene protocols as you do with any other device to reduce your risk of a cyber attack or breach. This may not erase your chance of being involved in a cyber attack altogether, but it will reduce it considerably. You may also wish to consider purchasing cyber insurance as an added layer of protection. If a breach or attack ever does occur and your family’s network is compromised, your cyber insurance may cover the costs to recover, extortion fees, legal fees, and more. Some personal cyber insurance policies will even cover additional living expenses pertaining to a cyber bullying event.

All in all, smart homes are amazing advances in technology and can make our lives so much easier. But, with anything that may be a gateway to our personal information, it is vital that you implement sufficient cyber security practices to keep you and your family safe.