British internet users consider their homes among the safest places in terms of cybersecurity. According to a survey conducted by NordVPN, only 1 out of 6 Brits think that their devices are exposed to cyberthreats when connected to a home network. Meanwhile, cybersecurity experts say this is a deceptive peace that could lead to serious privacy issues.
“While it is natural for people to feel safer at home than in public places, in terms of cybersecurity, your home is as vulnerable as any other place. A deceptive peace and lack of protective measures lead to serious cybersecurity issues that could affect the private life and security of all household members,” says Marijus Briedis, CTO at NordVPN.
Home Wi-Fi connection is as vulnerable as a public one
Most internet users are perfectly aware of the potential cyberthreats of public Wi-Fi, but a wireless internet connection at home could also be infected or hacked. Even though home Wi-Fi has a lower risk of being infected than public Wi-Fi due to fewer users, the reckless actions of every family member can cause cybersecurity issues for the household.
“The connection between a router and a device is like a two-way bridge: sophisticated malware from an infected device can spread to the Wi-Fi router and infect other devices connected to the home network. It can also stay in the router and collect data from any other device in the network or change router settings and redirect users to malicious websites. So one infected device can cause security issues for all the network,” Briedis says.
Cybersecurity expert Briedis advises taking a few simple measures that will increase the resilience of your home Wi-Fi network without additional investment or significant efforts. For example, to change the default router login credentials, constantly update the router’s firmware, set a strong Wi-Fi password, disable remote management of the router, enable network firewalls, and other measures.
Your home can become your biggest traitor
While the router is the central device in the home Wi-Fi system, smart TVs are among the primary targets for cybercriminals since nearly 57% of households have smart TVs. In addition, depending
on the aim of the intruders, a hacked smart TV could be used for several types of cybercrimes: from cyberstalking the owners with built-in microphones or cameras to stealing personal credentials used to log in to apps on the smart TV and selling them on the dark web.
Cybersecurity risks rise with a growing interest in so-called do-it-yourself (DIY) home security systems. For most households, this is the most affordable yet sufficient solution. Still, the primary concern is whether all users can set up the system in a way that would protect not only their households but also their privacy and cybersecurity.
“Ironically, without proper setup, home security systems with video cameras and sensors all around the home could serve not the household’s security but criminals. Sometimes, they blackmail families for not making videos of their personal lives public. On other occasions, doorbells, backyard, or even cameras inside the home become a tool for burglars to know if it is safe to get in and rob the house,” Briedis says.
Hackers can turn our fortress into a cave
Smart home systems can enhance convenience, but every device connected to your home’s Internet of Things is an additional door to your home for cybercriminals. Even if a hacked light bulb might not sound terrible, it could become the gates to your computer credentials, banking, or other sensitive information. Moreover, in a device hijacking scenario, an attacker gains control over a smart device, which might put your privacy or even your well-being at risk.
“It wouldn’t be fair to claim that smart home devices are safe or unsafe. Smart home safety and security depend on the devices’ selection, configuration, and network security. If you lay the proper groundwork for your smart home, you can enjoy its benefits without risking your privacy,” Briedis says.
To protect their smart home, homeowners should, first, research devices before buying them to make sure they purchase reputable products with reliable security features, keep their software up to date, set unique and strong passwords for their home devices, and use trustworthy security software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.
Second, it is crucial to secure a home network. While it is still rarely used, one thing that could improve the cybersecurity of all home IoTs is setting up a virtual private network (VPN) service on the router. Once a VPN is set up on a router, all connected devices will be granted the benefits of VPN protection. This means that the user’s activity will be hidden from anyone trying to spy, whether it’s cybercriminals or data-hoarding corporations.