Did you know that even our homes and businesses are vulnerable to cybercrime? Find out here how to take the basic steps to hack-proof your home. It may sound very far-fetched, but with the continued progress in technology in our homes it is starting to sound like normal practice to control your heating via your phone and even unlock your front door. Homes and businesses across the nation are starting to contain more smart sensors, thermostats, security equipment, even baby monitors and getting them online via wi-fi. These gadgets are known as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and they are ever on the rise across the world.
They are gadgets designed to make our lives easier and more convenient, such as switching alarm systems on and off from another location or turning up the heating on a chilly day from your phone. The question is, are these methods secure from somebody else’s control? The unfortunate answer is no. There are a whole manner of ways for criminals to intercept personal information, bank details, take control of the technology that is designed for your security e.g. door locks and alarms. It is no secret that whilst technology development is accelerating onwards, so is crime adapting to new opportunities and challenges to wreak havoc and feed their funds.
How does cybercrime affect me?
It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? What happened to good old keys in locks or actually standing in front of the thermostat like the good old days? Whilst there are arguments for and against the developments in technology, there is no escaping the fact that it is happening and the number of people and businesses that embrace it are increasing. Also, the idea of criminals seeking to hack into these systems is very real. According to an article in The Sunday Times last week, in October 2016, a large cyber-attack took many prominent sites offline for a day, including giants like Twitter and Netflix. This attack was launched from a network of thousands of connected devices, which you would think were PCs but this was not the case. The gadgets used were smart fridges (yes, there are even smart fridges), TVs, smoke alarms and other smart gadgets that had been sold with little or no security in them.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this would not affect the rest of us when such big giants like Twitter and Netflix are being targeted. However, domestic homes and smaller businesses with less security measures are quite open to cybercrime in comparison, and for cyber criminals there is much to be gained. The increase in voice-controlled artificial intelligence (AI) is widespread, thanks to the many devices such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. It has recently been discovered that criminals can even use ultrasonic voice commands to smart speakers, named a ‘dolphin attack’ as it is inaudible to the human ear. These voice commands could be used to open a front door, turn off an alarm system…you can see how this would be of benefit to a criminal! Smart speakers have already been known to order products that the owner didn’t ask for following hearing the information on television.
What can we do about it?
Okay, so not everyone will be opening their front door with a magical Harry Potter spell and a swish and flick, but there are so many other ways that criminals are smartening up to that it is important to make sure you’re ahead of the game. Here are a few tips to help you:
- Use the built-in voice training options with your smart speakers so that they should hopefully only respond to your voice and nobody else’s.
- A huge tip for all other devices that use wi-fi is to change your wi-fi passcode. Routers come with set passwords that look quite complex but they are actually much easier for criminals to decode as they have a set link to the brand and type of device. Always change the password for your router to one of your own, but of course make sure that this one will be hard to crack too, no passwords with your favourite football team or your address/date of birth for example!
- Create a guest network, which involves using a second wi-fi hotspot, either a wireless extender or some modern routers can do this. Connect your devices to this second network, which keeps them further from criminal reach as they are not directly connected to the primary network.
- Use a password manager, such as LastPass to securely generate and store your passwords across devices.
In summary, our homes and businesses are starting to fill up with smart technology, some more than others. Criminals are also evolving with the times and taking these new opportunities to access and control our data. Whilst the bigger attacks will be reported in the news, these are not the only cases occurring and it is important that people exercise the most basic but effective layers of defence available to them.
If you are concerned about vulnerability to attack for your business then give us a call on 01827 31 22 78 to see if we can help you, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit goes to Matthew Bingham of The Sunday Times for the information in this blog.