If you asked many people whether they locked their doors when going out, a majority would likely respond that they do. But if you asked many people whether they used a VPN when using a public Wi-Fi, a majority would likely respond that they don’t.
It’s interesting how people take home security seriously, but aren’t as adamant about their online security. And maybe it’s because those material possessions are actually tangible, perceptible by touch. That’s a philosophical musing for a different day, but we should acknowledge that more and more, our personal lives are integrated with our online activities.
The connection of cyber security to home security
In a PewResearch survey, only 10% of adults were able to correctly identify images showing multi-factor authentication, and only 13% were aware of the risks mitigated by using a VPN over public Wi-Fi. This is hardly really technical stuff to know, and identity theft companies like Identity Guard offer protection services that take a lot of the legwork out of staying secure.
Just as I spoke above about people locking their doors, smart door locks are unironically rising in popularity. Thus, keeping your home physically secure can also – not just can, significantly does – overlap with cyber security as well, especially if you own many smart devices in your home.
Your smart light bulbs or smart TV could be an entryway into your home router, which could be connected to your Wi-Fi garage door opener, for example. This isn’t futuristic sci-fi stuff, this is like, proven and factual to happen. Baby monitors have been hacked, for Pete’s sake.
So the more dependent on tech we become, the more Wi-Fi enabled gadgets we add to our home, the more we absolutely need to be aware of more in-depth cyber security practices, and not just using strong passwords.
Ways to secure your home against cybercrime
Always install firmware and security updates on devices around your home. This also keeps them operating efficiently. Your smart bulb might have a slight flickering issue that’s fixed by a firmware patch, but that patch could just as easily be fixing a critical security flaw in its Wi-Fi encryption as well.
Change all the default passwords of every IoT device
Secure your network and change all default passwords. You really have no idea how your smart TV is storing your login credentials for different apps where you might have credit card information stored, for subscription purposes. It’s really not far-fetched to think that someone could stand outside your home with a packet sniffer, and intercept data flowing between the TV and your Wi-Fi router.
Cover up those pinhole cameras
On any kind of device that has a built-in microphone and camera, tape up the cameras. It’s a bit trickier to disable built-in microphones, as you can typically disable those in device settings, but you can’t be 100% certain. But for cameras specifically, again, I could hack into your smart TV or smart fridge or anything that uses facial recognition, and I could monitor that device’s camera to know when you aren’t home.
Use a VPN and strong anti-malware protection when out on a public Wi-Fi
Again, this is not some sci-fi fiction stuff. It’s very easy to perform MitM (man-in-the-middle) attacks on public Wi-Fi, and even cause the router’s captive portal (the website that automatically opens when you log onto a hotel’s free wi-fi) to redirect to a virus download. Then your laptop gets infected, you take that infected laptop back home, and the virus jumps onto your home network and infects your computer.