Home Security: How Smart are Smart Houses?

03 Sep Home Security: How Smart are Smart Houses?

Smart technology can turn on your lights, turn up or down your thermostats, and unlock or lock your doors. It can perform many tasks in your home including some you do not want performed. It is not the technology that is the problem; it is how it is used.  Many homeowners may be unknowingly trading security for convenience when they install smart gadgets or systems in their homes says cyber security expert Jerry Irvine, chief information officer and partner with Prescient Solutions, an information technology company in suburban Chicago.

Smart technology lets users connect via an internet connection, systems to perform those tasks and almost always those systems can be controlled wirelessly.  Unfortunately those systems are often insecure, Irvine said, and that vulnerability can open the door, literally and figuratively to people who are looking to steal from you.

Hacking into a smart system can give someone physical access to your home by disabling your security alarm, turning off security cameras and even unlocking the smart lock on your door. What makes these systems even more problematic is that they are often controlled by smartphones, which Irvine called “the most insecure device we have”. Most users don’t even have a personal identification number for access.

So how do you keep the hackers out? Most consumers are not sophisticated enough to be able to put the necessary controls on their own virtual local area network of VLAN. So hire a technician to do the work for you. It should take about an hour and cost maybe $75.00. Have the technician show you how to change the encryption key– the password that decodes the information on the network and change it after the technician leaves. You need to use a unique user name just for this account, something that is hard for a hacker to guess and never use your email address. Using a 15 character long password that includes upper and lower case letters, and at least one number and special character–a punctuation mark or symbol, is wise.

Never make an online payment with a debit card or a direct transfer from your bank account says Jerry Irvine. At least you have protection if you pay by credit card but if your bank account is compromised, the loss is yours.

That is using technology in a smart way.

Excerpts from an article by Mary Beth Breckenridge TC 05/07/14