Home Network Security Concepts and New Technologies
Our homes are changing. Our homes are becoming smarter while our lifestyle is converging with new technologies. As our homes become smarter so do the challenges of maintaining a high standard of home network security. The convenience of electricity began to change the way we live in and around our homes centuries ago. Overtime, our lives and the daily chores and daily drudgery have become easier to tackle. The invention of electrical appliances was an evolution. Now, smart home technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) are revolutionizing the way we live, and at the same time introducing a vast amount of home network security concerns.
What is Home Network Security and Why Does it Matter?
Home network security is ever encompassing. It includes the status of the cable gateway device provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) all the way down to the smallest connected device, whether a sentry sensor or a smart light bulb. And, a bunch of connected things in between. Most of us have a variety of smart devices connected to our home network and are actually living in a smart environment. That’s not what the plan was, that’s just the way it is.
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Such an environment becomes a treasure chest of data, some private, and some sensitive. There are data constantly in transport within a home network. There are login credentials, banking information, private communications, and lots of personally identifiable information cruising through the airwaves. Most of us go about our daily routines without acknowledging the importance and value of the data we are allowing our network to safeguard.
Image by Pete Linforth
So, the reliability of our home network security and related devices is of the utmost importance. Who does the responsibility of ensuring the network is secure fall on? Is it the responsibility of the user, or of the network owner? The correct answer is, “It’s the responsibility of both parties”. In a later section, we will discuss that concept. If you have ever been a victim of a hacking attack or a security breach you can easily realize the importance of network security.
Is My Home Network Secure?
That’s the million-dollar question! How can we be sure our home network is secure. We rely on the integrity of the companies that design, manufacture, and sell us the equipment and devices we use. Most consumers can’t spend the financial resources to bring a professional security consultant into their life to make sure their information is safe. There are some common-sense methods and procedures that can help to ensure a network configuration is safe and secure. Always consult manufacturer documentation and security tips.
The planning phase of a home network is where it all starts. In general, only use network equipment and connected devices that are from reputable manufactures. Ensure the manufacturer continues to support their products for a reasonably expected equipment life cycle, usually seven to ten years. Consumer reports and technical reviews can shed light on the trustworthiness of device security features. Following solid security procedures and incorporating the appropriate controls when planning, and developing home networks can help to ensure a secure environment. This is the basis of the inherent security that is designed into smart homes and intelligent buildings.
Virtual Private Network Services
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A well thought out home network security strategy includes using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and one should be incorporated. This is a simple service to implement that adds another layer to your home network security strategy. A VPN is used to connect endpoints together with a secure connection through means of encryption.
One setup and activated the advantage of a VPN is there and requires no additional consideration or thought from the user. It just works. A VPN service can be shared among several devices and travels with that device to use used during any network connections that are made throughout the day. A good example of a benefit is the protection it offers when connected to a public network.
What are Smart Homes and Intelligent Buildings
There are differences between smart homes and intelligent buildings. They share many concepts and processes like automation and increased efficiency. Both environments offer more comfort, increased security, and a safer environment. Both cases, smart homes, and intelligent buildings leverage the transformative values of the Internet of Things (IoT) to automate and improve many tasks and functions.
Smart homes and intelligent buildings have a lot in common but the way they need to be designed for different requirements sets them apart. It has to not only with scale but complexity. Both scenarios could use similar type smart devices to perform specific functions but the control system and console within intelligent building design would be vastly different. Ideally, a smart apartment could function within an intelligent building at the maximum provided benefit in many areas. A smart apartment works in sync with the amenities of an intelligent building and then has its own control system and console for specific functions and personal requirements.
Smart Does Not Necessarily Mean Safe!
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of all manufactured IoT devices have inherent security vulnerabilities. Smart homes rely on the Internet of Things to function efficiently and provide extra comfort and safety to residents. These vulnerabilities must be acknowledged and planned for. Controls must be designed into the smart home to mitigate vulnerabilities and authentication issues associated with IoT devices.
Image by Gerd Altmann
The Internet of Things
Every aspect of home network security is more exaggerated in smart homes, the challenges are intensified. It is a matter of addressing security vulnerabilities, compatibility issues while improving the consumer experience. Most IoT devices will need to be segmented on their own network and with the introduction of 5G and WiFi 6 technologies, design requirements become more stringent.
IoT devices include smart light bulbs, thermostats, sensors, actuators, cameras, automatic pet feeders, and practically anything that has a microprocessor and can connect to the Internet. Some IoT smart devices need to be more secure than others. For example, smart door locks use on entry doors need to very secure, whereas a smart light bulb probably doesn’t warrant extra security and authentication controls. By the year 2023, there will be almost 300 million IoT devices in use. A hackers paradise and a nightmare for a security specialist. Most security professionals look at the situation as a challenge to step up and meet the demands with innovative solutions.
FORECAST: NUMBER OF SMART HOME DEVICES FROM 2017 TO 2023
Smart Home Products and Home Network Security Myths
The term “Smart Home” is becoming a buzz word in common everyday conversations. As much as we hear about the concept, it is not being vastly adopted by consumers. Almost everyone owns some type of smart device, yet we are slow in adopting a collection of devices that can make our homes smarter. Perhaps some people just find all the technology too intimidating. Maybe some don’t think it’s a worthwhile investment. Some may be concerned about security issues.
Image by Pixaline
There are lots of reasons to incorporate smart home designs into our homes and our home networks. Smart homes increase efficiency, save time and money, and are typically safer than traditional homes. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons, or beliefs, that people have that makes them shy away from smart home technologies. You will probably agree that most of these myths are unsubstantiated.
- Cost Too Much to Justify Having — Getting started is not expensive. There is no reason to buy everything at once. Once you have an overall view of what you want in a smart home environment you can begin accumulating components that all work together as the system grows. What I did first was to buy a home hub (not expensive). Then I added on a smart speaker. I then added a few security cameras. Also, the added cost of new construction requirements to incorporate a smart home system is minimal.
- It Takes a Tech-Savvy Person to Use a Smart Home Device — It is not as complicated as some think it is. Usually, it’s as simple as downloading an app to whatever device you are going to use to control your smart devices. Through the use of a smart speaker, it becomes even simpler by using voice commands. It’s just a matter of doing a small amount of research to decide what strategy will be the most simple, streamlined, and effective for your situation.
- Smart Homes are an Absolute Necessity for Everyone — That’s just not true. Smart home devices can make your life easier and more comfortable, but that doesn’t mean they are the solution to every situation. During the planning process, it will become obvious what devices should be utilized in a given environment.
- There’s a Lack of Privacy and Security — A well planned smart home can provide both privacy and security. It is possible to have privacy in a connected smart home. Smart home design can be planned in with home network security in mind.
- Smart Devices are Just a Fad and are Just Gimmicks — As consumers realize smart devices are not just gimmicks they can turn to the real issue at hand; do the devices actually add value to our lives. It is important to remember that automatic door openers and life-saving devices life carbon monoxide detectors are smart devices.
There are many reasons to incorporate smart home devices into your home network and everyday lifestyle. A well designed smart home system also increases the value of a home when t comes time to sell.
What is a Personal Area Network?
Typically a Personal Area Network (PAN) is created when multiple Bluetooth or WiFi devices are used together in close proximity of an individual user. It is typically a segmented network where only the devices in use at the time are connected. The distance covered is typically less than 30 feet. A good example would be a jogger using a blue-tooth pulse monitor, smartwatch, and electronic pedometer while out for a jog. And probably some blue-tooth earbuds.
What is Home Network Security?
It is the steps that can be taken to protect devices that are connected within your home. This includes routers, computers, cellphones, and other WiFi-enabled devices. It is the practice of keeping the devices on a secure network while allowing communication with the outside world (The Internet). No network is too small to be attacked. And most devices right out of the box are not securely configured.
How do I improve the security of my home network?
► Regularly Update Device Firmware and Software
► Remove Applications and Services you don’t use
► Never Use Default Login Configurations
► Always use Complex and Unique Passwords
► Run Antivirus Software on All Devices
► Install a Firewall Between Network and the Internet
► Always maintain Current Backups
► Always use Current Encryption Schemes on Wireless Networks
READ MORE: How to Create Complex and Unique PasswordsFeatured image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Updated on November 23, 2020 by Kirby Allen