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The advent of new technologies has made virtually every aspect of life easier. For workers, it means that they can answer emails from both in the office and at home. For students, technology has provided a way to complete homework tasks from the comfort of home.

Importantly, the internet has also changed the game for homeowners. Whether looking to automate everyday activities or wanting to check up on the home while you’re in another country, IoT devices can facilitate all of this. 

However, while convenient, IoT systems come with an element of risk. Namely, the fact that this is another system hackers can infiltrate to retrieve personal information and data. Rather than letting risk outweigh reward, IoT system owners need only implement key security tips. 


Defining IoT 

Before understanding the risks involved with IoT systems and how they can be mitigated, it’s important to fully understand the term IoT. As such, IoT (the Internet of Things) is essentially a network of smart devices that connect to each other.

This connection allows for the sharing of data via internet means, with little to no human intervention. An IoT system will typically consist of wireless networks, cloud databases and sensors. Mobile devices and relevant apps are also required. 


Types of IoT

When it comes to understanding IoT, it’s important to understand that there are different types of IoT systems. This is because IoT facilitates everything from turning on smart speakers remotely to triggering motion sensors within a home.

Home automation

One popular form of IoT is home automation. These systems monitor and control elements of the home and as such, can classify a home as a smart home. Additionally, this form of IoT is aided by smart devices such as assistant speakers, smart plugs, bulbs and thermostats. 

With this in mind, home automation can encompass the following tasks:

  • Automating heating and cooling for certain rooms 
  • Allowing lights to be dimmed, brightened or colour changing 
  • Prompting assistant speakers to turn on the television or music 
  • Remotely turning off appliances such as washing machines or cooktops 


IoT systems can also be used as a way to ensure a home’s security. By offering unparalleled insight into the comings and goings of the home, smart devices help to add another layer of security. 

Common smart security functions include:

  • Motion sensors that trigger lights to turn on
  • Smart locks that enable the creation of one time entry keys for tradespeople
  • Smart doorbells that allow homeowners to remotely view who is at the front door
  • Day and night vision cameras that wirelessly transfers footage for anytime viewing 


Common IoT security issues

While enabling smart home functions, there are some inherent security concerns regarding IoT systems. For example, one vulnerability could lead to a system failure or external hack that limits the use of every connected automation and security function. 

While any such failure or hack could limit the use of key tasks when it comes to home automation and security, there is the potential for data breaches. As smart devices gather valuable information, sensitive data could be compromised. 

In one example, a hacker could use information from the thermostat to determine the common hours when the house is empty and occupied. In another instance, hackers could access information shared with a smart assistant such as passwords or bank details.

When it comes to IoT security issues, there are also malware concerns to consider. While these concerns are often countered by key device upgrades, there is still room for error. Mainly because users will have to manually check for and download these upgrades. 


Ensuring the security of IoT systems 

There is the potential for security issues to arise when using IoT systems. However, homeowners looking to upgrade their residence to a smart dwelling shouldn’t be deterred. Especially when you consider that there are key tips individuals can use to bolster security. 

When it comes to ensuring the security of IoT systems, there should be two clear priorities. Firstly, making sure that data processing, collection and storage is being conducted securely. Secondly, incorporating processes that can detect and eliminate potential vulnerabilities. 

Step 1: Set up the router 

The WiFi router is affectionately referred to as the door to the smart home. As such, you need to make sure that this door is as secure as possible. This starts by setting up the router effectively. While this may take time, the end result of improved security is well worth it. 

When it comes to setting up the router, change both the default name and password to something unique. This is because a hacker could look up the make and model of the router and potentially access documents that reveal the default name and password. 

Step 2: Think through passwords

Every IoT system and device will require an account name and password. While it’s undoubtedly tiresome to think of new passwords for each device, it’s imperative to always be unique.

Otherwise, if a hacker cracks one password, they will be able to access all smart home devices. To aid the process of creating new and unique passwords, it might be wise to use a password generator. 

Step 3: Enable multi-factor authentication 

Another step to ensuring security is by enabling multi-factor authentication. In essence, this form of security ensures that typing in a password alone won’t allow access to the device or related mobile app.

Multi-factor authentication can take the form of an email link or perhaps a one-time pin that is sent to the user’s mobile phone. Such security is beneficial as it adds another layer of protection should a password be compromised. 

Step 4: Keep devices up to date 

As previously mentioned, device updates can create solutions to malware risks. As such, individuals should regularly update not only the physical device, but also routers and mobile applications. 

Keeping on top of numerous updates, while tedious, is quite important. This is because updates often include essential security patches that enhance network security and close loopholes that hackers may or may not have yet exposed. 


Enjoying your smart home

Utilising IoT systems to build a smart home should be exciting. However, the ability of such systems to be hacked can cause concern. Rather than waiting to be hacked, proactively undertaking security measures can help homeowners truly enjoy their smart home devices.


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