BGU’s Cyber Security Tips for the Smart Home
BGU’s Cyber Security Tips for the Smart Home
October 5, 2018
From laptop computers to off-the-shelf devices, the cyber vulnerabilities of homeowners keep multiplying as they incorporate more internet-connected devices within their homes. According to cyber researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Cyber Security Awareness Month is an excellent time to make a few simple changes that will result in a far greater level of safety and security.
“There’s a wide range of steps consumers can easily take, though some require a bit more focus or technical prowess,” explains Dr. Yossi Oren, a senior lecturer in BGU’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and head of the Implementation Security and Side-Channel Attacks Lab at Cyber@BGU.
“In previous research we found that internet-connected devices such as baby monitors, home security cameras, doorbells, and thermostats were easily hacked by our researchers. Password protection and updated devices are just as important in a smart home as they are on a computer or mobile phone. Once hackers can access an IoT [Internet of Things] device, like a security camera, they can create an entire network of these camera models controlled remotely.”
BGU’s Hacktober Tips for Product Security
Since it’s Cyber Security Awareness Month, otherwise known as “Hacktober,” BGU researchers offer a number of tips to keep families and their IoT devices more secure:
1. Never use the same password on multiple websites or online services. Both Apple and Google offer free password managers that can take care of your passwords for you, and even automatically suggest strong passwords that are hard to crack.
2. Turn on “two-factor authentication” to prevent hackers who’ve stolen your password from logging into your Facebook or Google account. Two-factor authentication sends a text message with a login code to your phone to verify it’s you.
3. On the heels of the recent Facebook hack, in addition to changing your password, use the Facebook settings screen to review the list of apps and websites that you granted access to your data. Remove any apps or websites you don’t recognize and trust.
4. Don’t fall prey to clever phishing scams that ask for payment and indicate they have an old password that you recognize. It was likely bought on the illegal “dark web.”
5. Do cover your computer camera with tape or use a specially made camera cover to prevent prying eyes.
6. Buy IoT devices (cameras, baby monitors, any smart device that connects to the internet) and replacement parts only from reputable manufacturers and vendors. Change the admin password as soon as you can connect it. Annually check for security updates which you download.
7. Avoid used IoT devices like routers or cameras. They could already have malware installed.
8. Call your internet service provider and request an updated router. Many are years old and don’t have the latest security updates. Change the WiFi password on your home router.
9. Automatically back up your data—pictures, contacts and documents. If a computer is compromised, it may be easier to just reformat it than to find the malware, and it will allow your devices to function better.
10. Evaluate your family’s cyber health. While you yourself may be relatively cyber safe, make sure others in your family, like an elderly parent or teenager, are taking similar precautions.
“In only an hour or two, most of these steps can be accomplished, saving you significant headaches, serious theft and the loss of privacy or priceless data,” Dr. Oren says.
About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) looks ahead to turning 50 in 2020, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more.
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