Authored by a Symantec employee

 

Whether you’ve only heard someone else talking about the “Internet of Things,” or you’re well on your way to creating your own “smart” home, it pays to do your research.

Just what makes a home “smart,” anyway?

A smart home is any home that uses devices or appliances that connect to the internet. These “smart” devices can be anything from a lighting system that lets you remotely adjust the timing of the lights throughout your house, to a smart coffee maker that lets you remotely set the time you want to grind the coffee beans just before it brews you a fresh cup.

Although many of these individual products can be controlled by an app on a smartphone, most users have been adopting what’s called a smart home “hub.” This is a central device that connects to your internet router and acts as a “home base” as it communicates with and controls all of your internet-connected smart home gadgets (many of which are also voice activated), which helps to automate the overall connected home experience.

Smart home convenience and cost savings

Looking at the convenience and cost-saving features of many of these new smart home devices, it’s easy to see why they have become must-haves: A smart lighting system means no more juggling heavy bags of groceries on your dark front porch as you hunt frantically for your keys. A smart thermostat eliminates the need to pay to heat or cool an empty house. And a smart home security system gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your front door is securely locked even if you’re already two hours down the road.

Want a smarter home? Do some smart shopping first

The Norton Cyber Security Insights Report found that 65 percent of U.S. consumers believe that connected devices are made with security in mind. Unfortunately, many of the new companies joining this hot new market segment have focused on getting the device to market quickly, and ignored device security. Perhaps not that surprisingly, Symantec uncovered vulnerabilities in more than 50 categories of IoT devices.

But because the market for IoT devices is extremely competitive, this gives consumers a wider selection of the same kind of device. So it pays to go to the manufacturer’s website to review their privacy policy, read over their terms of use, and learn about the data that they collect from you, and how they safeguard that information.

After all, while these gadgets may seem innocuous, remember what makes them smart is some sort of tiny computer, which collects all sorts of data in order to improve functionality. A smart thermostat needs to collect information about location and uses a motion sensor to learn your habits. As part of its setup, your smart home hub records and stores your voice commands.

As part of creating a smart, convenient environment, these are not bad things. It’s just that you need to be sure that the manufacturers of those devices are properly securing all of this sensitive data, and that you keep your entire system updated, because hackers often use known exploits to try to get into your home system.

A safer smart home

Remember the part about all of the smart devices being connected to the internet? Unfortunately, one of the key concerns around smart homes is their vulnerability to hacking and other sorts of cyberattacks. So what’s the best way to take advantage of these emerging technologies while you also protect your security? If you keep in mind that a smart home network is only as strong as its weakest link, your priority must be that all of those devices are secure. Here’s how you do that.

Start at your home network’s “front door”: your router

Take a look at your home network’s router. Is it the regular one that you got from your internet carrier or cable provider? If so, you may want to do some research to make it is truly secure.

  • Check the password: If the router is using the default password that it shipped with from the factory, this could create an issue, as those passwords are easily obtained with a simple Google search.
  • Use a secure password: It’s important to choose a password that you won’t forget but is also difficult to guess.
  • Use the highest level of encryption available. Ideally, this means WPA2 and AES encryption whenever possible.

Good news: you’re not stuck with the router your internet provider gave you

Using your own router can not only help you improve the overall security of your home network, it can also help you save on your monthly costs for cable and internet, because most internet service providers charge you every month for that router.

Time to invest in a secure router

The best way to defend networked devices is to make sure that your router – your front door to your online world – is secure so it can protect your network. Here at Norton, we've been keeping a close eye on the threat landscape created by the expansion of the Internet of Things, and we’re seeing that IoT devices are now being attacked on an average of every two minutes. To help better secure today’s connected homes, we're proud to announce the brand new Norton Core router.

Available for pre-order now, Norton Core is your “Digital Deadbolt” to your connected home. As the first and only high performance, secure router with Norton protection bundled into it, Norton Core was built to secure and protect connected homes. Norton Core fundamentally changes the equation as it is built consciously, with security (data encryption, secure DNS, and automatic security updates) as the primary consideration.


Disclaimers and references:
Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, allows organizations, governments, and people to secure their most important data wherever it lives. More than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock comprehensive digital safety platform to help protect their personal information, devices, home networks, and identities.

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