When Surveillance Is The Way In: New Devices Create Security Gaps
NOV 07, 2016 16:03 PM
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When Surveillance Is The Way In: New Devices Create Security Gaps

By Larry Alton

Today, smart homes are considered to be the pinnacle of security, but are these new devices causing more harm than good? Though we may think we’re protecting our homes, many people are inadvertently creating new avenues for cyber criminals to enter. These new systems are full of gaps, but unlike with traditional fences and locks, we often can’t see the spaces where criminals are getting through, making them that much harder to thwart.

Cloud Concerns

One of the main reasons why there are increased security risks associated with smart homes is that they are heavily reliant on cloud-based services. Cloud computing, which has transformed the workplace through SaaS, is part of the underlying foundation of smart home security, allowing users to monitor their homes from remote locations.

The cloud makes smart home services convenient, but is that enough to justify the security risks, such as hacking, that come with it? The answer may depend on just how smart your home security technologies are.

Looking Inside

If you want to assess the level of risk associated with your smart home security devices, start by looking at the types of information they allow you to access remotely. Can you watch surveillance video of the inside of your home? Then you should assume that cyber criminals can gain access to those videos. That’s a lot of information and can make your home extremely vulnerable.

Even more serious than video data are the promises of the groundbreaking device, Flare, a crowdfunded project capable of voice and facial recognition – but that’s not all. Flare can also determine when you’re away from the house and if you have almost returned by using geolocation technology, a feature that could easily be used by criminals planning a getaway.

Of course, many smart homes are not yet equipped with Flare-like qualities, but as recent years have shown, such devices have the potential to catch on quickly. And when considering such devices, it’s important to remember that if you can use a device’s tools to identify personal data, criminals can use that same technology against you.

Strengthening Your Safety

There are several key steps you can take to make your smart surveillance technology-equipped home safe from savvy cyber criminals, most of which are just common sense in our modern, connected world. First, make sure that your home’s wifi connection is secured with a strong password and that you don’t share that password outside of your home. Gaining access to your home’s wifi is the easiest way in for cyber criminals seeking personal information or money.

Another option for those with video surveillance in their home is going old school – switching from cloud-based video streaming services to local storage. Local storage simply means keeping your video information stored on a microSD card rather than an online server. This requires more upkeep than cloud-based streaming, but it does mean that outsiders can’t easily hack into your security stream.

Finally, when using a home security system, ask an expert about the system’s full capacities. Often, these systems include a variety of tools not in active use, such as file transfer protocols (FTP), and criminals can take advantage of them, even if you don’t know they’re installed. Ask for help disabling system capabilities you aren’t using, thereby closing that path to cyber-invaders.

Cyber criminals get smarter by the day, so the onus is on you to keep up with their expanding technical knowledge. Keep your system updated, change your passwords regularly, and know that a home security system doesn’t make your residence inviolable, but rather it enhances your ability to address problems when they arise.

Knowledge is your best line of defense.

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