Home Due Diligence

If you have ever heard advertising for SimpliSafe Home Security, you will hear about two dim-witted crooks who would never dare access a home protected by SimpliSafe.  Well, it’s safe to say, that this will probably change things; even these two crooks could defeat this system now.  The  Hacker News provided more evidence about a significant vulnerability that can affect your home or home office/small business.  And that was on the heals of this article.  It seems like it never ends, every day a new vulnerability will be identified.  We have to constantly be on guard, even with those systems that are designed to help keep us safe.

We have written several times about the vulnerabilities the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring into our houses and workplace environments.  For all the convenience and upgraded features that you will be able to do from your devices, you invite more attack surfaces for hackers to exploit.

So what are some thoughts on overcoming this:

  1. Set up your network with security in mind.  It’s easy to want to plug it in and give out your password to every visitor.  This is inviting danger because one visitors malware could now become yours and the security posture you had is now out the window.  Most routers now will allow you to set up multiple SSIDs.  Consider one for home office appliances,  one for smart appliances and gaming systems, and maybe another one for mobile devices (PC Mag, 5 Nov 14).
  2. Keep up to date with security updates.  Don’t just plug it in and let it rip, rather, keep on top of patches pushed out through your devices.  When was the last time you updated yours?  Do you even know how?  Now might be good.
  3. Research, research, research.  Before you buy, do your own research into the product.  And don’t just look at the user reviews, though some times you might find a good a good one.  Try to find a manual and look at the technical specs and try to understand how it will connect with your network.  What does it need to connect to and what doesn’t it.  What information will it collect?  Where does that information go?  Does the company maintain a back up somewhere?  What are their security practices like?
  4. Don’t buy the first generation product.  It’s safe to say that virtually every product, no matter how well it has been vetted and tested, has bugs.  So just hold off for a little while.  We know some tech enthusiasts love to be the first to get the next generation X or  Y product.  That’s great.  But aside from the cost ultimately coming down, you can bet that the team will have found bugs or security issues.  If you have the patience, wait, and you will be rewarded with a better product.

Finally, as a point of just being blunt – ask yourself if you really need it.  I know this is counter the argument for getting everything connected, but do you really need to have everything connected?  Does your washer really need to tell you that you are out of detergent or that the load is done?  Do you need a refrigerator that tells you that you need to replace the filter and order it for you?  Can’t you just see for yourself?  Some products are awesome, and without advocating one over the other, we do believe a wireless thermostat will save you money.  However, what does all of it really do for you?  That’s for you to decide.

There is the convenience that these smart appliances will do for you for sure.  But as we know, security isn’t convenient and you need to be careful about what you are bringing into your house.

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