Is your home a smart home? Make it safer
Give your home a free intelligence test with the Avira Home Guard. The wave of smart devices flooding homes has created a security rip current: the situation looks fine, but there are many security issues just lurking below the surface that many people are not wanting to take a deep look into.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is based on smart devices equipped to send and receive data via the internet. At first glance, a smart home equipped with a portfolio of various smart devices is great: video cameras providing 24/7 CCTV coverage, health devices sending your vital stats to the doctor, and smart thermostats that know how to keep you (efficiently) toasty warm.
Is this really so smart?
But after a second – security conscious – glance, this might not be so good. Smart devices are known for often having unencrypted communication – giving everyone between you and the device server Man-in-the-Middle easy access to your private data. The Economist Intelligence Unit* found that 70% of the devices they looked at did not encrypt the user data sent to their servers.
It’s no longer a security issue of an individual device. Mirai-inspired malware scans the internet looking for online devices “protected” only by their default settings. Once it finds these devices, they can be enslaved into a botnet and harnessed to deliver spam and even knock parts of the internet offline. And it does not help that some companies producing IoT devices use the same default settings across their entire product lineup.
It’s a global issue – but it’s also your problem
The problem is bigger than your home network. There are billions of smart devices online and it is not clear which devices are intrinsically insecure, what devices have not had passwords changed from the default settings, and who could be reading the unencrypted user data. Even though there are numerous security issues for smart devices, there are still no global standards for them.
How to properly invest in internet of things
Despite these risks, most people are in an IoT “cloud of unknowing” about the security of their home network: they are unsure – but uneasy – about the IoT devices in their network, but they aren’t taking steps to clear up this ambiguity. However, there is no reason to just fret over the potential IoT risks lurking in the shadows of the home network, it’s time to uncover them.
The need for a basic security test is why we developed Avira Home Guard. We wanted to make an app that gave people a clear look at the security of their smart home along with some suggestions on how to improve it. — Vikas Seth, Business Unit Lead at Avira.
Home Guard is a free app for Windows that scans for smart devices in the network, identifies security vulnerabilities, suggests solutions, and keeps an inventory of connected devices.
How to really make your home a smart home
Home Guard can be installed with one click via the Avira Client on Windows. Make another click, and you can start the automatic device discovery scan, giving you complete visibility into what devices are connected to your network and their potential vulnerabilities.
Here are the three primary actions with Home Guard:
- Scanning the home network. Avira Home Guard automatically discovers the connected network, then goes to work identifying everything on it. This list includes smart devices, Wi-Fi routers, cameras, smart TVs, Wi-Fi printers, media servers as well as other computers, tablets or smartphones in the house.
“I don’t think most people are really aware of just how many devices may be on their home network – even if they are techies,” explains Vikas. “There are always devices coming and going from various family members.”
- Uncovering vulnerabilities and recommending solutions. Avira Home Guard scans the router for known vulnerabilities such as open ports. Once identified, Home Guard informs and advises the user to immediately close the unwanted ports on router.
“Open external ports allow about anyone to contact and exchange information with the online device,” he added. “In this case, knowledge is power, and the alert from Home Guard is a clear sign that you should go into your router settings and shut it down.”
- Remembering all online devices. Home Guard has a memory, remembering all devices that have been connected to the network in the past in addition to automatically looking for new devices. This memory enables it to more accurately chart all devices on the network.
“Not all devices are going to be home or online when you do your first scan,” Vikas points out. “With Home Guard, this is no problem as the app will remember all devices that have been online and continuously rescan for additional ones. This lets you – as the de facto administrator of your home network – stay on top of what devices can be running around your network.”
How smart is your home?
Your house may be smarter than you think. Not only does this include your own personal devices, it includes the devices of other people within your home network, and perhaps those traditionally “dumb” devices such as fridges and light bulbs. With Home Guard, you don’t need to wonder about how smart your house may be. Instead, you can map out the connected devices in your house and the information needed to take remedial security steps. After all, a smart house should have a smart and informed owner.
* Economist Intelligence Unit & HPE Security Research, via Statista, 2017
This article is also available in: German