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How to Secure Home Automation from Hacking

Updated on December 29, 2015

Home automation is a system that enables you to access your home devices via some sort of mobile device (mobile phone, tablet) anywhere in the world. As such, they are prone to hacking in some extent. Some more, some less.

Here are some results, overlooked things and advices how to keep your home automation system from hacking.

Never Buy Used

Used home automaton components, especially hubs and nests is a very bad idea. It opens up a possibility that someone with malicious intents had a chance to temper with it and install same kind of firmware that enables him to imperil the hub or host of other devices. Then, by tapping into it, he will basically have the access to all of the devices in its network. So, just to be on the safe side, never buy used.

Secure the router

The routers are often considered as “digital doorways to your homes”. There is absolutely no reason not to treat them as such. Gaining access to the router means gaining access to the devices in your home. So, inform yourself, read the reviews, choose a proven manufacturer, even if it’s a little pricey…it pays off in the long runs.

Next, change the default admin password immediately upon installation and make sure it’s a good, strong and secure password. Don’t use dates of birth, names of your love ones, social security numbers or any other personal information. I know it is tempting for their ease of remembering, but simply-don’t. Use a random sequence of numbers, symbols and letters, both upper and lower case, and don’t be stingy on the length. Oh, and one more thing- keep firmware up to date. Of course, it goes without saying, don’t tell your passwords to anyone.


Secure Your Hubs

Vital devices like hubs and such should be placed in a secure place, where it couldn’t physically be tampered with. Here’s why. Devices that have USB update mechanisms are susceptible to a very quick hack. Proper device connected to it, with a proper software in the “right” hands, and there you go. Skilled hands with the right tools and software for the job can be very dangerous. A recipe for a security catastrophe! Put yourself in the mind of an intruder, and try to predict the places they will be searching.

Keep an eye out for updates

Serious companies that are striving to get their products and services on a professional level are treating their customers as such. They are not the ones to sell you the product or service and leave you with that, lumbered with the same outdated version. The work on their products, especially firmware should be ongoing, for the hackers and intruders are constantly finding new ways to use the loopholes in the manufacturer's system or hardware.

It is one topic I’ve mentioned before. Updates. Automatic updates is such a nice option to have. Preferably your device has it. If that is the case, use it. Updates often contain latest security fixes and it was proven, they were critical, more often than not. There is no need to keep checking for new updates if the device has the option to check for latest ones and install it automatically, on its own. It will be one small step for you, but giant leap for your household, so to speak.

Also be vary of wireless security systems. Although most of them are top notch, some of them have a weakness that can be bypassed. In most cases it comes down to false alarms, but you can never be sure. [1]

The Brand Game

Although risking to sound cliché, I would recommend to go with the established brand. Let’s look at it from this angle. There are many companies doing this business, home automation. Some of them, unfortunately, are not taking it serious enough. Maybe they are even trying to take you for a fast ride. Ultimately you, as the end user, will suffer for their lack of professionalism. That being said, I would recommend a serious, long lasting name. A company with a reputation. A good one. Also, a good customer support is always a good thing, right?[2]

Well, there you have it. With all of the above taking to consideration, my best advice is to use common sense, and carefully consider the benefits and risks of each device and company.


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