How to protect your smart home with Home Guard (part 2)
Attacks on smart homes are soaring not only due to ever-smarter hacker attacks, but also because of poorly protected devices. This is where the new Home Guard app steps in, helping you discover vulnerabilities and resolve them.
It’s really great to be able to come home and be greeted with the perfect temperature with lights that switch on automatically. As such, it’s no surprise that smart home devices are gaining ground. In Germany alone, some 700,000 households are already connected – with the number expected to increase to 1.5 million by 2020. At the same time, forecasts estimate that the number of smart home devices in use globally will have increased to 50 billion by then (source: Avira Smart Things – see graphic). In short, the relentless march of IoT (Internet of Things) seems certain. There’s just one problem: Security.
This is because the greed to make a quick buck means that protecting against attacks often doesn’t play a major role. But now that every small-time outfit is flooding the market with connected devices, consideration of secure encryption processes, effective virus protection, and cleanly implemented authorization and login processes has gone out the window with many IoT devices. On top of this, a large number of users have no idea of the resulting risks – with many not even realizing they are using smart devices and that they need to protect them. This is why Avira developed Home Guard. The app gives users an overview of all their connected devices and helps them discover vulnerabilities.
How to install Home Guard
Windows: Start your Avira antivirus program. If necessary, click the arrow on the top left to access the program overview. Beneath that you’ll find the entry for Home Guard. To the right of that, click Install. After a few seconds you’ll be able to launch the program by clicking Open.
How Home Guard finds all the devices on your network
The following guide relates to Android, but the app functions in a similar way on Windows.
- When you first launch the app, it will take a moment for Home Guard to detect your Wi-Fi network. Once it has, tap Discover devices. Following that, Home Guard will scan your home network for connected devices. This will take several seconds.
- Once it has discovered all your devices, Home Guard will list them by type. The entry beneath the device description also tells you when Home Guard first discovered the device. If you sort the list by “Date” (see tip below), all newly discovered devices will appear at the top of the list.
- Tap the arrow to the right of the device description and Home Guard will display further information about that device. This includes the device type, the vendor, when Home Guard discovered the device for the first time, as well as the local IP and MAC addresses. If Home Guard has not recognized the device type correctly, you can correct this manually by tapping the little arrow next to “Other” and selecting the correct description.
Tip: In the device overview, tap Filter to sort by “Name”, “Date” (recommended), or “IP Address”. You can also configure the display to only show certain device types. To do that, tap Select all to make the check mark next to the entry disappear. Then, select the desired category, such as Home security, and tap Save.
How to scan your connected devices for vulnerabilities
- Tap the Scan button in the Home Guard app to start the security check.
- After a few seconds, Home Guard will display its findings. Ideally, you’ll see “Your network is safe”. If this isn’t the case, the app will list potential vulnerabilities. The main reason for this result will be open ports that may make the device vulnerable to internet attacks. If, for instance, certain connection ports are open on your router, hackers can connect to them via the internet.
To learn more about what the notifications mean in detail and how you can resolve issues, read the third part of our Home Guard blog.