Are Connected Homes Secure from Hackers?
The recent virus attack on the computers in the NHS that hit the headlines over the last week is a timely reminder that we can never get complacent when it comes to electronic security. Hackers are continuously coming up with new ways to exploit previously unknown security vulnerabilities in all types of computer systems and technology. What might be considered a secure system today may not be tomorrow when a new exploit is found.
The heart of any smart home system (including all those installed by Cyberhomes) is essentially a computer…it’s a microprocessor running software to control and automate your home’s technology. Whilst it might not be a general purpose PC running Windows or MacOS there is still the possibility that a hacker could write some malware to specifically target these processors. Similarly a lighting control system, internet routers and even individual CCTV cameras all have processors in them that are theoretically capable of running rogue software if someone manages to hack into them. Whilst the attack on the NHS was ‘ransomware’ where the computer’s data was encrypted and a payment demanded to ‘unlock’ the data; the attack on your smart home might not be so noticeable. Sure, if your usual automation stops working correctly or your AV won’t turn on you’ll know something’s wrong; but that might not be the only way a hacker abuses your technology. Your system could, for example, be hijacked as a mail server and used to send out spam email to hundreds of thousands of people every day, and the only way you might know about it is if your internet connection seems a bit slower than usual.
So how do I protect my smart home from being attacked?
Well if your connected home system was installed by Cyberhomes we will already have a taken a number of preventative measures. The passwords for all the equipment we have supplied would have been changed from their default setting making it considerably more difficult for someone externally to access the processor. We will also have ensured that the firmware on all the equipment is up-to-date to close any security vulnerabilities that had been discovered to date. We would also have considered the design of your network to minimise the risk of your computers being able to infect your smart home technology and vice versa. If your smart home solution was installed by someone else and you’re not sure whether it is secure, it might not be a bad idea to give your installer a call to check?
But it’s not a once only fix. Keeping your system secure is an on-going exercise as the hackers develop more ingenious ways to access a system.
If you have an existing SMARTsupport contract from Cyberhomes you’ll know that as part of our annual ‘health check’ we include a security audit to make sure that, for example, firmware are up-to-date and passwords are still secure. An ongoing service and maintenance contract should be considered essential for any smart home installation… …not only to ensure it stays functional and reliable, but also to ensure it remains as secure as possible.