It’s a simple truth: Smart homes make life easier. When you live in a house outfitted with devices that can be controlled remotely by your phone or your computer – or your voice – you’re more in control no matter where you are. You can turn your security system on from your car, you can turn lights on and off without touching a switch and more. So it’s no surprise that, around the world, experts expect that there will be more than 350 million smart homes by 2023.
But most smart homes are backed by a Wi-Fi connection, which opens the door to security breaches. Studies show that about 41% of smart homes have at least one device that’s vulnerable to cyber attacks. Luckily, Kevin Boudreau, Senior Consultant for Product Management at Kinetic by Windstream, said, “The evolution of internet security is moving to a more preventative place where more features and systems are preventative in design.”
In the spirit of June’s National Internet Security Month, which emphasizes education around internet safety, here are 3 ways smart home residents can improve their smart home device security.
(1) Be aware of the devices that make your home more vulnerable.
“Cyber criminals are getting more savvy,” Boudreau said. “They’re not just going after your identity anymore so they can rob you of your assets. They’re looking to tap into devices in your home, to find out when you’re going to be home. So there are vulnerabilities when you introduce new Wi-Fi-enabled devices into your home.”
Popular smart home devices are inherently vulnerable around the world. They include:
- Smart speakers, which were in use by 320 million people in 2020.
- Baby monitors, which were purchased by 13 million people in 2020.
- Security systems, which are on the wish list of 63 percent of homeowners.
(2) Choose an internet service provider that offers internet security at the gateway.
Curious how secure your smart home devices are? It largely depends on your internet service choices.
“When you purchase internet, it’s like purchasing a water service,” Boudreau said. “You want to make sure that you have the cleanest internet coming into your home, and that’s by getting the cleanest internet through the gateway.”
When your internet service provider offers internet security at the gateway, that means that as the internet stream comes into your home, there’s protection at the hardware level. There’s protection where all devices connect to the modem and router, the gateway.
An example of products to look for when purchasing internet is Kinetic Secure by Windstream. “The beauty about internet security provided by Kinetic Secure is the gateway-level protection,” Boudreau said. “That means that all the devices that are connected to the home also get that benefit of internet security, that additional layer of protection, defense and monitoring. So as you connect a Nest, or an Alexa or other voice-command-type products, those devices are also going to be protected.”
The Total Secure package within Kinect Secure offers enhanced internet security, on-the-go internet protection for smartphone security, premium technical support and identity theft protection for more holistic security benefits.
“We keep a very large database of all of the threats that are out there on the internet,” Boudreau said, “and as new ones are introduced, we catalog them. If we see this type of threat come through the gateway, it’s blocked.”
(3) Take simple steps to further secure your router.
Even after you select an internet service provider that offers gateway security, there are a few actions you can take to enhance that equipment. Give your router a new name, so the make and model aren’t easy to identify and hack via default logins and passwords. That also means you should update your router password.
In addition, make sure your home router offers WPA2 encryption. If it doesn’t, consider an upgrade. WPA2, or Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 encryption, ensures that data moving across your wireless network is encrypted. It also makes it impossible for people to access your network unless they log in with the specific WPA2 password.
Prevention protects you and your family at home.
Kinetic Secure usage proves how secure smart home devices are when internet security is baked into your home internet plan. “Kinetic Secure blocks an average of 20 million threats per year, for the 150,000 customers that subscribe to it,” Boudreau said.
Without it, customers relying on smart home connectivity could be victims of hacking in a variety of ways, whether criminals breach their home security system and their home becomes unsafe, or personal privacy is violated through camera-centric devices like baby monitors.
“Everybody is vulnerable,” Boudreau said. “Everybody has to do something to protect themselves.”
Now that you know how to better secure your smart home devices, take action.