6 Tips to Secure IoT (Internet of Things) Home Network

Infrastructure


A smarter and more restful life can be achieved with a smart home network of secure IoT devices. These devices work together to make life easier and more enjoyable. The rapid development made to both the hardware and software sides and even internet speeds are all pointing to more and more people owning Internet of Things systems in their homes. Many people nowadays live in the smart home that has been a dream for many of us for years. 

A report from Fortune Business estimates that the market may grow to a huge $1.1 trillion worth by 2026. And even before Internet of Things becomes mainstream and those devices enter each home and stay, there are already big concerns raised about the security of these networks. This can obviously lead to unwanted consequences. 

Why should you secure your IoT network?

secure IoT

Cyber criminals have shown their interest and ability to hack cameras of laptops and cameras in other devices in the past. It wouldn't be odd if they keep working hard to hack those of the smart home networks. That's just a simple example, while other devices of a smart home give them much more chances. 

So if hackers could successfully take control of one device or the whole network they may: 

  • Determine when you are home or away through usage data of your devices. This can be very easy if you own a smart thermostat that regulates itself only when you are home. This can lead to crimes where a real criminal works with a cyber one, like we have seen in movies and video games for years. 
  • Damage the whole system and ask for a ransom, just like what happens with files on computers that are encrypted and the hacker asks for money to let you get them back. Even paying the ransom doesn't guarantee getting the Internet of Things network working again. 
  • Access private information you may have shared with a virtual assistant through a smart speaker. This data can be your password or may be with smarter and quicker payments, your credit card credentials. 

The threats are real

That is not just imagination, and hackers are very interested in this. According to Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report in 2017, the average IoT device was being attacked two times every minute at peak activity periods. 

Back in 2018, a malware called VPNFilter succeeded in infecting more than 500,000 routers over the world in more than 50 different countries. The malware could then install more malware on the devices connected to the router. 

VPNFilter had the ability to stop routers from working. It collected information passing through them so that it could have stolen passwords of users. 

Also in 2016, hundreds of thousands of hacked devices were used in a botnet, where hacked devices are used to launch large-scale attacks. The botnet was called Mirai and successfully lead to stopping major services like Netflix, PayPal and Spotify. This just shows how hacking and cyber attacks are possible and can be even more dangerous with networks connected to Internet of Things devices. 

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How to secure IoT network? 

router for IoT

Choosing the router comes first 

According to data published by Symantec, 75% of attacks on IoT start with a router attack. The best thing you can start with to secure IoT network is getting a router that supports high security standards and not just one that makes you connected to the internet. More secure routers cost more, but owning a home Internet of Things network means they are worth the investment more than ever. 

After getting a secure router, change some of the settings to make the network more secure. This starts with the name of the network that needs to be not denoting your identity. Choose a powerful password and use the WPA2 encryption that provides the highest level of secure data packet exchange.

Enabling 2-step authentication 

A two-step authentication requires an additional step to sign in after entering the right password. It is usually a one time password that is valid for a short time sent to your email or phone every time you sign in. This makes it harder to infiltrate your network if a hacker tries to hack the network. 

Disabling Universal Plug and Play 

The Universal Plug and Play feature supported by Internet of Things devices can be responsible for harming your network. The feature allows each device to discover the surrounding devices and automatically connect to them. However, it can make the devices connect to other public networks leading to less secure IoT network. So, using the manual connection would be a better solution if you want better security for your network. 

VPN for IoT

Using a Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network ensures you are connected to an enclosed network from a VPN provider, without your real IP address being exposed. A VPN connection also ensures your activity cannot be tracked and adds a layer of protection to the whole network. So if you are controlling your system even from outside the home, it won't be an easy job to hack your network. 

Creating a secondary network 

One of the great features you can use to secure IoT (Internet of Things) network is to create a secondary network, just for your IoT system. Routers enable you to create secondary networks from the parent network but not a lot of people use this feature. 

This can prevent hackers from hacking your smart home network even if they hack your WiFi connection. Strong encryption methods like WPA2 may ensure this doesn't happen in the first place, but that is just another layer of protection. The secondary networks can be created from your router settings page. The feature can be also used to create separate networks for guests or kids. 

Monitor your devices data usage 

You may do everything to secure your network, but still consider monitoring the devices and how much data they consume. You can also restrict their consumption according to your needs. This can protect you from hackers and also from the companies that made these devices. 

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