Securing Your Connected Life.

February 19, 2015

This post comes from Paul Williams, Vice President of Security & Communications Products at Control4, and was originally written on May 15th, 2013. Security is continuing to evolve and due to it always being a hot topic, Control4 wants to provide tips for consumers on best practices. 

How safe are you in your home?  Let’s make the assumption that you have a security system and you lock your doors at night, so as you tuck yourself in bed you feel secure.  Should you though?  While you sleep peacefully (and frankly anytime during the day) your home may be under constant attack, not from burglars in masks trying to pry open windows, but from something potentially equally as devastating and intrusive.

The attacks are cyber attacks.  The goal of the attack? Gaining access to your personal information, access to your home systems, and any information that can be used to the financial gain of others. Sometimes the attacks are meant just to cause havoc, as in the case of computer viruses.  In today’s digital world, consumers are continually adding more and more devices to this connected world, a world where even refrigerators are being connected to the cloud. That means we are increasingly creating more and more points of infiltration into our “homes” and personal lives.

Thankfully for most of us, we aren’t a large target like a government agency, but it does not decrease the need for us to be vigilant when it comes to truly securing our home.

So, what can you do?  Here a few tips and suggestions:

  1. Check your passwords on all Internet connected devices, especially routers and WiFi access points.  If your password is “password”, “password1” or any other default password, change it IMMEDIATELY!

  2. On WiFi access points, many allow you to “Broadcast SSID”.  This is often the default.  Since this is your personal system network, unless you really need to be broadcasting your SSID, turn off that feature.  NOTE: This means that when you want to connect a device to your WiFi network you will need to enter the SSID name into the device, but this adds another layer of security.

  3. Install a Firewall.  There are many software and appliance options out there.  The important thing is to have one.

  4. DO NOT enable port forwarding on your network router unless you truly understand how to set up port forwarding securely. Unless it is setup properly behind a firewall and with intrusion detection software, port forwarding can open up your home to outside attack.

  5. Be wary of email you receive from people you do not know.  Many intrusions into systems and computer viruses come from email attacks.

  6. Maintain good passwords for everything you access on the web (bank accounts, school grades, security systems, etc.) Change passwords occasionally and make sure they cannot be easily guessed.  Names of family members or pets are not secure passwords.

  7. Be vigilant!  Make sure you evaluate your security on a frequent basis, and as you add new devices, make sure they are have adequate security to protect your systems.
While all of this can be scary, properly connected and configured devices can provide you with a secure environment while allowing you to live a connected life.  That way when you tuck yourself in bed, you truly can feel fully secure and dream about some warm tropical beach, instead of the constant barrage of cyber intrusion attacks on your home.