As home technology grows in popularity, cyber criminals find creative ways to hack

Hackers accessing home cameras, smart thermostats, kitchen appliances and more

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Nowadays, it’s tough to argue.

There are big benefits to using smart technology in your home or office.

Odds are your doorbell has a camera now, your cell phone, your home or car. Even your dog can have its own smart device that tosses treats on a whim. It’s exciting and annoying, tempting and scary.

In this snap-of-a-finger decade we’re in, what happens when the wrong person gets involved and starts to play games?

We’ve seen a number of incidents where hackers tap into smart cameras, raise the temperature on smart thermostats, hack TVs, WiFi lightbulbs, even control kitchen appliances.

So what do you do? Well first of all, experts say there’s one harsh truth to accept.

“Everything is hackable,” said Dr. Yair Levy. “We cannot secure 100% anything.”

Dr. Levy is a professor of cyber security at Nova Southeastern University.

He said while you can’t completely secure your devices, you can create layers of security, starting with splitting your home or office WiFi network.

“You want to put all those devices on a separate network than your home network. Not the same network that you do your finances for example,” said Dr. Levy.

He went on to say that many people also use the same usernames and passwords for almost all their devices.

In many of the home hacking cases, these cyber criminals simply got a hold of those usernames and passwords.

All it took was a company’s data breach with that information involved, or the passwords were easy to crack, or some malware infected a system and hackers stole the information.

We compiled a list of tips from experts Dr. Yair Levy and data privacy attorney Luis Salazar:

- Remember, everything is hackable. Focus on layers of security.

- Split your WiFi network. Put your home devices on a separate network.

- Create passphrases instead of passwords (i.e. Johnlikes4LattesAday!).

- Don’t use the same password/passphrase for every device.

- Make sure you always update the software on your devices when prompted.

- Invest in a camera cover. Unplug or cover devices (even laptop cameras) when not in use.

- Beware of your email. Don’t click odd or unexpected links that may contain malware. Don’t download random attachments and know that some hackers may
pose as legitimate businesses.

- Understand the risks versus rewards for having smart devices.

- Education is key. Consider asking professionals for help securing your home or business.

Additional resources:

FBI information on cyber crime

What is ransomware?

Ransomware tips and prevention

About the Author: