How can smart home devices spy on you? Top tips to stay safe

The latest smart home devices are being marketed as the best way to make your life easier. But they also come with a hidden danger: hackers can use them to spy on you.

This blog article will discuss how hackers might hack into your smart home device and what you should do if this happens. We’ll also provide tips for protecting your smart home devices from hacking in the first place!

Which Smart Home Devices Can Be Hacked?

In theory, any smart home device that connects to the internet can be hacked. But most of the time, hackers are only targeting smart devices with cameras and microphones – like Apple Home or Amazon Alexa.

The internet acts as the backdoor into your home – and if there’s a weakness in that backdoor, it can lead to all sorts of privacy violations.

Some smart devices don’t have any built-in protection against hacking: they’re just dumb machines! This means anyone with the right skillset could break into them to complete their own tasks or spy on you.

There have been a number of news articles over the past few years relating to various smart home devices that have been hacked, such as:

Smart home devices with cameras and microphones were hacked to spy on people. Some of these smart devices include Amazon Alexa and Google Nest.

What are the ways that smart home devices can spy on you?

The following are ways that smart home devices can be used to spy on you. It is important for people to be aware of these risks and take the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves from being hacked:

  • Smart plugs and sockets allow hackers access into your WiFi network, which could give them full control over all of your internet-connected devices such as phones, computers, TVs etc. This gives hackers a chance to delete files or steal sensitive data from your computer without you even knowing they’re there!
  • It’s possible for a device’s camera to spy on you and your friends and family.
  • Smart home devices can be hacked to listen in on your conversations or gather information about you.
  • Smart devices can spy on WiFi traffic if unencrypted. This can allow hackers to steal sensitive information such as banking details, usernames, passwords and addresses.

These attacks can go undetected for days, weeks or months.

How can Smart Home Devices Become Hacked?

There are several ways that a Smart Home device can be hacked. These are:

  • Home routers leaving network ports open, thus exposing your network to hackers on the Internet.
  • Smart Home devices that are running old firmware/software.
  • Smart Home devices using default usernames and passwords.
  • Accidentally clicking on phishing links in emails. These can allow an attacker to gain direct access to your network and then find a device with a security vulnerability.

Some of the points above are not the fault of consumers as the manufacturer has either shipped the equipment with security vulnerabilities pr-existing or hasn’t deployed a patch to home devices when these vulnerabilities have been identified.

Unfortunately, some manufacturers don’t design ways of automatically deploying security patches to devices at all. Therefore it is left to the consumer to keep themselves safe.

Maintaining a security-first mindset will go a long way to protecting your smart home devices from being hacked.

How to prevent your smart device from spying on you

There are a number of things you can do to protect your smart home devices from being hacked and therefore spying on you and your loved ones. Although this list isn’t exhaustive it should give a good overview of how to stay safe.

  • Change the default username and passwords. Change passwords for all of your Smart devices including devices that aren’t classed as “Smart” such as routers, NAS boxes etc. This single step will significantly improve your security posture.
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA is a powerful tool in the fight against hackers. MFA enables you to use an additional layer of security by requiring access to your phone, or some other form of verification before being granted access to your device/account. Use it on as many accounts as possible.
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Strong passwords are essential for protecting your devices, network, and yourself.
  • Turn off microphones and cameras if possible. To maintain the privacy of any data that is captured by your device, turn off video recording features and disable voice commands if they aren’t needed. You may not be able to do this of course as it may render your device pointless but pausing to think if you need this particular feature is an important step towards gaining control of your home network.
  • Secure your router. Turn off non-essential ports or protocols on your home router and switch on all available options on your firewall.
  • Be wary when using public Wi-Fi as it may not be secure enough for sensitive information transfer like passwords and credit card details – some hackers will set up fake networks with names similar to those offered in hotels such as “Free WiFi”.
  • Update your devices. By ensuring that your smart home device is running the latest software release, you will be able to stay current with the latest security fixes and features.
  • Buy secure devices. Before buying a smart home device, check that the manufacturer releases regular firmware updates. If the manufacturer doesn’t release regular updates, it is possible that they are not taking security seriously.

The best way to protect your smart home devices is by not using them – but of course, this isn’t a realistic solution for many people so it’s worth following these tips as much as possible.

Check the manufacturer’s website for instructions on how to achieve all of the points above.

What to do if your smart device is spying on you?

If our smart device and network have become victims of a hacker, there are several steps we can take to try and remedy the situation.

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Turn off your home router. This will isolate the hacker from your smart home device.
  3. Turn off all of your smart home devices one by one.
  4. Reset your smart home devices. Switch on your smart home devices one at a time and reset the firmware. Hopefully, this should prevent the attacker from regaining access to your devices. You may need to check the manufacturer’s website on how to do this.
  5. Reset all passwords relating to accounts for your Smart home devices. These might be your Google, Amazon or Apple ID account passwords.
  6. Secure your home router. Change the password to this device. Switch off all unnecessary ports such as UPnP. Update the firmware for your router.
  7. Update the firmware of your smart devices to the latest version, if possible.
  8. Turn on multi-factor authentication. Switch on MFA for all of your online accounts that support this technology.
  9. Check your bank account for any suspicious activity.
  10. Run a virus scan on all of the Microsoft Windows devices connected to your home network.
  11. Install the latest security patches for your Microsoft Windows devices.

By following these steps, you should be able to regain control of your smart home devices. Ensure that you monitor your devices, bank accounts and online shopping accounts over the course of the next few weeks/months. If you notice anything suspicious, then switch off your Smart Home devices just in case while you contact your bank.

Conclusion

Conclusion paragraph: Smart home devices are becoming more and more popular in households across the world.

Whether you have a smart TV, thermostat, or even just an Amazon Echo, it is important to understand how these devices can be used against you by hackers who want to spy on your life.

By following good security practices, like changing all of your passwords regularly and not using the same password for different accounts, most people will be able to keep themselves safe from any potential threats that may come their way through their own personal devices.

So go ahead and enjoy your new gadgets while still being mindful of safety precautions that need to be taken when such technologies are introduced into our everyday lives.