Smart Device Security: Are You Protected?


A recent HP Security Research study has revealed some new information on the rush of smart devices hitting the market – and it’s not all good news. While home systems and the Internet of Things continue to grow, all that wireless activity has also led to more smart device security risks. It turns out that smart devices transmit a lot of information, some of it sensitive, but do not have many checks in place.

The HP research stayed away from mentioning brand names, but it reviewed a number of smart devices from TVs and webcams to door locks, alarms, and hubs for controlling multiple sensors. HP found privacy concerns in 80 percent of the devices it studied. For example, around 90 percent of the devices collected personal information (name address, birth date, etc.) but 70 percent had no form of encryption to protect this data.

The list goes on, but by now you’re probably wondering: “Wait, are my smart devices at risk? How can I tell?” Well, a lot of the responsibility for smart device security falls on the shoulders of vendors, but there are several steps you can take personally to protect your devices and make wise buying decisions for new systems.

Know the Danger Signs

How much do you know about smart device security? If you’re the average homeowner, the answer is probably “not much.” But to choose a protected device in this market, you can benefit from doing a little research beforehand. For example, do you know what XSS is? It refers to cross-site scripting, a vulnerability that allows hackers to circumvent controls by injecting malware into the scripts of otherwise innocent sites, allowing them to attack end users. What about session management? This refers to how each web “session” is authenticated as it occurs and includes features like session timeouts to help protect connections.

Learning terminology like this will help you ask the right questions, spot potential problems, and look for confirmation that web application security is up to date. Yes, it takes a little of homework, but it’s literally your home at risk.

Use One System For Smart Device Security

When possible, stick to one system and one hub device for your smart home. Today’s smart and home security systems come in all sorts of packages with a lot of DIY options, but don’t let the flexibility threaten your home security. If all your devices use the same formatting and communication, it’s a lot easier to manage updates and avoid weak spots. Try to choose more all-inclusive brands with all the devices you want. Likewise, if your needs are simple, stick with one multi-purpose device if you can.

Customize Your Passwords

Your Internet of Things devices should have some kind of password protection, such as network keys and software passcodes. Do yourself a favor and customize these passwords instead of leaving them at default settings. Pick more complex passwords that will fool hackers more easily. No sequences of numbers for you! Mix up letters and numbers, and aim for a password that’s more than six characters for better security. Remember, these are smart devices, so be smart about them.

Choose Options With Better Security

Take a close look at the security features of the devices that you choose. If you cannot find any security information on the brand websites, that’s a danger sign all on its own — but you may want to give the company a call to see if they can offer more information.

So, what should you be looking for? First, make sure the devices use encryption when exchanging information, especially updates and software downloads. Remember, 70 percent of vendors use unencrypted network services to carry data, and that may include sensitive data about your habits or even your finances. Without the necessary protection, this could set you up for identity theft. Vendors should also set a schedule for software testing and security reviews that will have automatically, especially when it comes to cloud services.

Pay Attention to Evolving Technology

Smart device security is on the move, and one of the best things you can do is keep up with the changes. Check in on your brand website from time to time to see if there are security updates you need to add, or industry news that will impact your home system. More information leads naturally to better security decisions.

Photo Credit: Domoalert Smart Life Quality