Overcoming Security Risks with Your Security System

Published: Aug 01, 2015 at 08:01 UTC

Gartner Inc., a tech research firm, estimates that nearly 5 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be in use by the end of the year. They also predict that the number will skyrocket to 25 billion by 2020. Clearly, wireless connectivity is here to stay.

Now that the IoT is becoming so popular, experts and research firms are looking into its safety, and what they’re finding isn’t comforting.

In February, HP released a report detailing a study they did on wireless home security systems. What were their findings? The found that 100% of the devices and systems studied had significant security flaws. Yes, you read that right: every single device they tested had some vulnerability that could be exploited.

The biggest problems these devices faced were:

  • Lack of proper authorization – most of the systems only required a minimum of six characters for a password, and none of them locked out users after multiple attempts. This means that bad guys could attack a system with a program that automatically generates passwords, over and over again, until the right one was discovered. Once that happens, the hackers have total control.
  • Privacy risks – each system tested required some sort of personal information, ranging from name and address to birth date and credit card number. When combined with poor authorization protocols, these systems are just begging for someone to steal your identity.


HP isn’t the only company shedding light on these flaws. Internet security firm Symantec ran tests of their own, and they found that it was quite easy for cyber-crooks to hack into smart hubs – and everything they control.

The best case scenario in a situation like this is that a prankster just wants to have a little fun by changing the thermostat settings in your home or turning off lights; worst case is a bonafide hacker who will hold your system ransom until you pay to get it back.

Will You Be A Victim?

Knowing that a hacker can break into your system to gain control of your appliances, your lights, your door lock or even your cameras is definitely something to get upset about. It’s even more upsetting when you realize that it can happen to anyone, including huge corporations.

Mass retailer Target was recently the victim of such an attack. Hackers were able to gain access to the company’s security system through their air conditioning system (yes – their air conditioning system!), and that led to a breach where the personal information of 110 million customers was compromised.

You may think, if it can happen to a company as large as Target, it’s inevitable that it will happen to you. This doesn’t have to be the case. To avoid a hacking scenario, one expert recommends that you never sacrifice security for convenience. But what does this mean?

How to Protect Yourself

The industry of home automation has led to the creation of hundreds of startups that develop everything from hubs to single-function devices. When you search for products that will help make your life a little easier, you’ll find yourself bombarded with more things than you’ll know what to do with.

To keep from inviting a security risk into your home, security expert Todd Morris of Brickhouse Security says that you should look for devices that are developed as foremost security systems but that also have smart functions added.

The reason these products are best is because their developers take more stringent measures in protecting their systems. Just think about it: do you think the manufacturer of an automatic window blinds opener is going to worry about security as much as a developer of a home monitoring system?

As exciting as it is to try to put together your own home automation system using bits and pieces from different companies, it is this type of behavior that can create some of the biggest problems. The reason is that your device from company A may not communicate correctly with a part from company B. This means that if a hacker is trying to gain access to your system, they will have multiple entry points at their disposal.

As such, another way to mitigate the risk of a security breach is to consult a professional installer. These experts understand the inherent dangers of wireless systems, and they’ll be able to help you find home automation solutions that won’t put you and your family at risk.

Home automation and the IoT are growing with each passing day, as are the threats against these systems. However, if you take the time to learn about the devices and systems that you bring into your home, you can reduce your chances of being hacked.

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