When it comes to setting up a home network or automation system, we often talk more about features and functions, than security. But security should be at the top of everyone’s list as more and more devices are being made available to the Internet. The ‘edge’ of your home’s network and therefore your home’s network security is your router. If you’re using the free router from your ISP with default passwords and remote access enabled, you may be surprised how open your network can be to outside hackers. You may want to consider getting an entry level business class router or security device. Not only will it provide better security but with a little homework you’ll get a device with much better Internet throughput as well!
When it comes to routers, automation controllers, IP cameras, recorders and other potentially Internet connected devices, the first thing you should do as part of the installation process is to change the default username and password to something complex and unique. Stop using the default password or same password everywhere. You know, the one that has your kid’s name in it? Or your cat? Use something strong or you’re asking for trouble.
The next step in securing your network and iOT (Internet of Things) devices, is to make sure you’re running the most current firmware. Firmware is the on board code that makes these things tick and if it’s running old, buggy code, it’s a security problem. You should check your firmware versions at installation time and on an ongoing basis, especially if these devices are Internet connected in any way. Most manufacturers make firmware updates available to their customers directly and some make it an automatic process, but most don’t so it’s up to you to maintain them.
One more consideration is to disable or turn off any features or services you don’t need. By turning off features, you tend to lower the number of ‘doors’ these devices leave open, which lowers your overall footprint and makes you less of a target. You should also turn off remote management of your router because in most cases you’ll only need to access the management interface from inside your home, and that shuts a major door that has been used to compromise router security and even turn the router in to a ‘bad bot’ that attacks others, or looks to steal your information.
With some extra care, research and knowledge you can enjoy the benefits of a great home network, home automation system and security cameras while staying safe. These devices really can enhance our lives but just like it’s important to change your locks when you buy a house and keep the oil in your vehicle changed regularly, security needs to be a consideration in our Internet connected lives.