One day, Arjun and Jessica S. noticed their Nest thermostat, normally set around 72 degrees, had been turned up to 90 degrees. They then heard a vulgar voice coming from the speaker of the security camera in their house.
At first, Arjun yelled back at the camera. But then, he composed himself and stared into the camera. The person on the other end asked, “Why are you looking at me? I see you watching me.”
Arjun told local media, “All these devices you’ve put in there to safeguard yourself, to protect your home, your family, are now being used maliciously to turn against you.”
The fact is, this type of scary spying has happened to Nest users across the country who have reported similar incidents in the past, but the Google-owned company has insisted that it was not hacked. Instead, Nest has said that affected customers should have done more to protect their devices.
Obviously, Americans are increasingly installing Smart home devices that connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app.
As I’ve said before, this has opened a new frontier for hackers with experts expecting the number of incidents to increase with the additional sales of devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, thermostats, doorbells, and other household devices. By 2021, 25 billion connected devices are expected to be in use.
Companies are producing smart devices at an astounding rate because they are popular with consumers, but the security of these devices are taking a back seat to the benefits of a smart device.
In other words, these products are made with convenience being a priority and they don’t want to create too many security steps that will make the device a hassle for consumers to operate.
This is why I want to remind you of some steps that can help keep your home automated devices secure, so you can avoid being spied on in your own home.
Change your router name. If you live in a typical suburban neighborhood, I encourage you to search for local Wi-Fi networks. When you see the list of nearby networks, I bet you will find one that is simply the name of the users router, such as “NETGEAR0400.”
This is a terrible mistake because hackers will easily know which model of router you are using and they can focus on the weak points of the specific router security.
Anytime you set up a new Wi-Fi router, immediately change the name to something that makes no sense, such as “WeAreFriends123.”
Check the logs on your device. Most smart home devices keep a log of who accesses the device and the exact date and time they do so. Basically, you should be able to login to the administrator section of the app that controls a device and you can check the logs to see who has accessed the device.
For instance, the logs could show that someone using Iphone7 accessed the camera or someone on a Mac Book Pro reviewed security camera footage.
If you see an unknown device, immediately unplug the smart device and do a factory reset including changing the log in ID and password.
Host smart devices on a secondary network. These days, most Wi-Fi routers allow you to set up multiple networks that operate on the same router.
The benefit of doing this would be that if your smart thermostat becomes compromised, your laptop, smartphone, or tablet shouldn’t be hacked because it’s using a different network.
The idea is to create multiple access points on your router so that you have multiple networks: one for your computer and mobile devices and another for your home automation system and smart home devices.
That way, if a hacker steals your network password from your phone or laptop, they still won’t be able to get into your home automation system.
As we all know, the sales of smart home devices is going to continue to skyrocket. Eventually, the companies who make these products will have to get tougher with the security measures they provide.
However, since these companies are only concerned about making money, it falls on the consumer to take the extra steps to keep their home secure.
In the case mentioned above, Nest claimed that the home was hacked because the victims used a compromised password.
In other words, the companies will always put the blame on the user so make sure you take your home automation security seriously.