The Smarter Home: How to Create a Smart Home

Internet of Things gadgets aren’t just for toys for techies. They are actually more accessible by cost and ease of use, and people are finding convenience in creating a “smart home” with connected things.

However, convenience does not come without risk. One of the key security concerns with smart homes is ensuring that devices are not vulnerable to hacking and cyber attack. Let’s take a look at how-to create a smart home while following cybersecurity best practices.

What Is a Smart Home?

While the term “Smart Home” has been used a lot these days, especially with the rapid emergence of “smart devices” for the home. So what exactly is a smart home, anyway?

A smart home is a home that contains devices and appliances that are connected to the Internet. These “smart devices” can range from washing machines to coffee makers. While most of these individual products can be controlled by an app on a smartphone, most users opt for what’s called a smart home hub. This is a central device that connects to your Internet router and will act as a “home base” communicating with, and controlling all your other Internet connected smart home gadgets. These devices are usually voice activated and help to automate the connected home experience.

Now that you know what a smart home is, why would you want to connect your home to the Internet?

Smart Home Convenience and Cost Savings:

Imagine coming home from the market, hands full, yet, your phone unlocks your front door, and you can tell your smart hub to turn on the lights. Or, being able to adjust the blinds in your bedroom without getting up, double-checking that the front door has been locked when you have already left home and so much more. The automation capabilities of a smart home can be both time saving and give you peace of mind.

  • Automate lights and energy systems (heating and cooling) will help save money.
  • Install a smart home security system for a fraction of the cost of a traditional system.
  • Hands-free operation of many appliances in your home. Smart appliances will let you know when they’re having trouble. Moisture sensors can protect your investment by letting you know when there’s moisture accumulating and causing trouble.

Keeping Your Smart Home Safe

One of the most important things to remember when setting up a smart home is that you can open yourself up to series of cybersecurity threats. Your home network is only as strong as its weakest link. So when you start adding a host of new devices you’re going to want to make sure those devices are secure. How do you do that?

Start at the “front door” –your router.

Take a look at your router. Is it the regular one you get from your cable company? If so, you may want to do some research on it- it may not be as secure as you think.

  • Make sure your router isn’t using the default password it came from the factory with. Those passwords are easily accessible online by doing a simple Google search.
  • Be sure your router has a secure password. It’s important to choose a password you won’t forget and that’s also difficult to guess.
  • You should also use WPA2 and AES encryption for your router whenever possible, as these provide the highest level of protection for your wireless network.

You’re not stuck with the router your Internet provider gave you.

Look into getting a more secure router. Using your own router can help you beef up your network security as well as cut down on costs on your Internet bill. Most Internet service providers provide the equipment to you for a small monthly fee.

Over the past year at Norton, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the Internet of things threat landscape. We are seeing that IoT devices are now being attacked on an average of every two minutes. As a result, we’re proud to announce the brand new Norton Core router.

Built from the ground up, Norton Core is your “Digital Deadbolt” to your connected home. The first and only high performance, secure router with Norton protection bundled into it.

Smart shopping for smart devices.

The Norton Cyber Security Insights Report found 65 percent of U.S. consumers believe connected devices are made with security in mind, even though Symantec uncovered vulnerabilities in more than 50 different categories of IoT devices.

Research. Research. Research.

The market for IoT devices is extremely competitive, therefore giving consumers multiple choices of the same kind of device.

Connected devices are all the rage, so there will be lots of new companies entering the market focusing on getting their devices out quickly, and may not have security in mind. While we do not discourage you from buying these devices from newer companies, make sure they are security-focused. Go to the manufacturers’ website and review their privacy policy, terms of use and learn what data they collect on you, and how they safeguard it.

While these gadgets may seem innocuous, they all have tiny computers in them, collecting all sorts of data in order to improve functionality. Smart thermostats need location data as well as contain movement sensors to learn your habits. Smart home hubs can record your voice commands as a part of “machine learning” and store that data as well. While it’s not bad to use this kind of data, you definitely want to make sure manufacturers are securing that sensitive data.

“D.I.Y” Security

Since all these devices have computers in them, they are vulnerable. Keep your entire system updated, from your smart home devices to your laptops and tablets. Hackers often use known exploits to try and get into your home system. A lot of these devices can come with default passwords, like routers do. Look into if your device has a login, and if so, change the password to something complicated and unique to the device.

When you make your home smart, the risks become a lot higher, but by learning about the security of the devices you purchase, you can help mitigate those risks even further.

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