How to Safeguard Your Smart Home Against Hackers

Revenue generated by the smart home market is predicted to reach a whopping 93$ million by the end of 2020, with more than 25$ million being generated in the United States. As curiosity and popularity of smart homes keep increasing, so do the number of questions regarding privacy and security of connected devices

How to Safeguard Your Smart Home Against Hackers

Connecting various smart devices such as cameras, door locks, lights and thermostats to the world wide web makes not only these devices and systems, but also you and your home visible to hackers. What this means is that almost every internet-enabled and connected device becomes a target for exploitation and wrong doing.

The Risk is Real

There is already an alarming number of hacked laptop, smartphone and living room cameras, baby monitors, routers and even medical devices and alert systems. In 2018, a malware called VPNFilter has infected more than 500.000 routers around the world and used the existing in-home connection to instal malware on smart devices and systems.

Back in 2016, hundreds of thousands of IoT-enabled devices were compromised and used as a part of a botnet network called Mirai. Individually, the processing power of these IoT devices is negligible, but connecting them into a single network combines this processing power into a force capable of dangerous large-scale cyberattacks. How dangerous, you might ask? Enough to temporarily shut down websites or giants such as Netflix, Paypal and Spotify.

What is more frightening is that these two examples show how cybercriminals can act both locally, as well as globally, by either infecting your devices to bring you harm or using them as a part of a large-scale cyberattack.

So, what can you do to protect yourself and your smart homes?

Consider both the benefits and vulnerabilities

Man Working on Computer

Unfortunately, there is no IT structure in the world that is 100% secure. What we can and are doing is reduce the potential risk for a cyberattack. Consider the convenience offered by various smart devices as well as the potential risk posed by their installation.

A front door camera might offer the benefit of protection and continuous monitoring, but more often than not, that same footage is being relayed via or uploaded to the internet. Private networks and servers, on the other hand, will cost you a pretty penny both to install and manage as the time goes by.

Sure, convenience should never be more important than security, but a security system has to be convenient, otherwise no one will bother getting it in the first place.

Secure Your Home Network

It is absolutely staggering just how many people purchase modems, routers and similar devices from reputable sources. What’s even worse is that almost all of them don’t even consider changing the name or their network or the default pre-installed password that comes with said router.

Keeping the existing name and passwords only makes it easier for hackers to cross-reference model-specific names with the default passwords they come with. You’d be surprised just how easily that type of information can be dug up online.

Pro-tip: use a non-identifiable name for your network and a password that contains a combination of both upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. And no, do not write it on a piece of paper somewhere, save it as a contact on your phone or save it in your notes.

Enable 2FA

Two-Factor Authentication is another important step in securing your smart home. It adds a much-needed second layer of security by requiring you to input a six-digit code that is generated every time you enter your password. The great thing about 2FA is that these codes is that they can only be used once and are only available for a certain amount of time before they expire.

Update the firmware on your devices

Computer Security

Firmware refers to the basic software used to power both your router and the IoT-enabled devices that are connected to it. Updating your firmware regularly ensures that your devices cannot be easily breached due to unpatched exploits.

This is particularly important for medical devices and medical alert systems on carried and worn devices that offer constant monitoring of vital parameters such as wristbands, necklaces and so on.

If you think that this is a far-fetched idea, have in mind that the latest iteration of smart-watches such as Apple Watch now offer both heart-beat and saturation monitoring for their users. While this may be seen as a gimmick, there are medical devices that are designed to do just that: monitor your vital parameters and alarm the appropriate agencies in case things go south for their users.


Cybersecurity might be the number one priority for consumers who buy them, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is equally important for the brands and manufacturers who make them.

Be meticulous with your research and double-check devices on Ebay and Amazon that boast low prices and amazing reviews despite being relatively unknown. Buy only from reputable sources and avoid relying on the default passwords that come with them.

It only takes a couple of minutes of work and research to figure out how to change the defaults, but it does make a world of difference. Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the subject of home security.

But what do you think? Are smart homes really worth the hustle and risk or is their adoption just an inevitability and we just need to figure out how to make them as secure as possible? Let us know in the comments below.

Check the comment section below for additional information, share what you know, or ask a question about this article by leaving a comment below. And, to quickly find answers to your questions, use our search Search engine.

Note: Some of the information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.

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Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

How to Safeguard Your Smart Home Against Hackers