In this article, we’ll give you some specific tips to consider for securing your home security system. Yes, you read that well and might find a few surprises in here.
After all, no matter how much money you spend on high-quality video cameras, video doorbells, motion detectors, or a full alarm system: None of it’s effective if someone can break into your online accounts or alarm system and then view and use it remotely to gather and analyze information about your home, habits, and security settings, and potentially disable it before breaking into your home.
In fact, if you’re not careful with this, the thieves could be better prepared to break into your home than if you had no security systems at all!
But don’t worry, here are our 5 tips to avoid the obvious pitfalls.
1. Always change the default password of your router!
Your router’s default password is your first line of defense. Thieves don’t need to be near your house to receive a WIFI signal to hack into your network. They just need to know your IP address and can try to hack you from the comfort of their own home. In fact, statistics prove that most hacks into your local network happen because people didn’t change the default password.
You just need to google “default password Linksys,” and you’ll see it:
The router’s default password is “admin,” and you can leave the username field blank. However, for security purposes, it’s recommended to change the default password.
Believe it or not, those are Linksys’s own instructions from the manual. It reads like a suggestion, and it’s quite harmless, but they should make changing it to something mandatory, as it’s absolutely critical.
Let’s try it with NETGEAR, “default password NetGear,” and you’ll get:
When you buy a new NETGEAR router, it is configured with factory default settings. When you use the local web address www.routerlogin.com to access your router’s web interface, the user name is admin, and the default password is password.
NETGEAR even provides a handy overview of all their default passwords and usernames for you and the criminals:
How convenient. So change it right now. And change it to something hard to guess.
2 more tips for your router:
- Make sure you update the firmware with the latest version of the software. Unfortunately, most routers don’t do this automatically, as it’ll cause an Internet interruption for several minutes, but it only takes one click of the mouse.
- Make sure that the “Enable firewall” checkbox is selected.
2. Make sure your own Wi-Fi network is secure.
Often an easy-to-remember and easy-to-enter WIFI password is chosen because it’s more convenient to share this password with family members or visitors. Another reason is that difficult passwords are annoying to enter on WIFI-enabled devices, like the TV’s remote control or on a game console.
Typically we’ll end up with things like the family’s last name, perhaps added with a 1 at the end, or the family pet’s name with a 1 at the end. Or a with a hyphen or exclamation mark – if you’re lucky.
So you end up with wifi passwords like ” joneswifi,” “buddy1“, “indy1“, or even worse, the password is the same as the name of the Wi-Fi network.
A good piece of advice about passwords, in general, is that passwords shouldn’t consist of numbers and foreign characters to be secure. Not at all.
This is a myth, as this Guardian article explains.
So instead of choosing a password that you can’t remember, how about using the title of a book as your password? A movie title? Or a quote you like?
Or a phrase from a song lyric? Passwords like “wearethechampions” or “working9to5whataway” are extremely easy to remember and much more secure than 1letmein5!
Another important point is the name of your WI-FI network, the SSID (Service Set Identifier). Pay attention to it the next time you’re outside your house; you use your phone and search for “WiFi networks.”
You’ll be surprised how many people name their wireless network after their house number or family name. Of course, you should avoid this at all costs.
Instead, rename your Wi-Fi network ID (SSID) to something that doesn’t give anything away, or come up with a decoy name, or you also have the option with most routers to hide the SSID altogether!
3. Use unique and strong passwords for your online home security accounts
With password breaches happening all the time, even at the biggest companies (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, …), your passwords are open to hackers who can easily search through these leaked password databases. For this reason, you should not reuse passwords.
Of course, it is best practice not to reuse passwords at all, but we are all human, and sometimes it just seems more convenient. We understand that.
The main key question is on which websites you do this.
When it comes to your home security, the security of your email accounts and the security of your accounts related to home security is “mission-critical.” It all ties together, but you should be aware of it.
You can try it out for yourself at the Have I Been Pwned website by entering your email address for a check-up: https://haveibeenpwned.com/.
Don’t be surprised!
If you want an extra layer of protection, set up a separate email account for each service: one for Ning.com, one for EufyLife.com, Arlo, and Wyze, and so on. If that’s too cumbersome for you, at least use a unique, hard-to-guess password for each different service.
Otherwise, you’ll be in a horrible situation where hackers have the same access as you have to your security cams.
4. Do NOT use public WI-FI networks (especially to log in to your security services!)
Public Wi-Fi networks available at airports, hotels, and cafes are convenient, but if you use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, there’s a good chance someone else has already logged onto your device before you did. Hackers can easily intercept personal data such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, emails, photos, videos, documents, chats, etc., while you are surfing on someone else’s network.
In fact, many free public hotspots in cities are specifically set up as “honeypots” to spy on users.
The consequences can be disastrous. So if possible, stick with your phone provider’s cellular data, whose data packages are now quite affordable for normal surfing.
You should only do so via a reliable VPN service if you really want to connect to a public hotspot. This immediately makes things so complicated for the hackers that they will move on and inspect someone else on the network.
5. Enable 2-factor authentication for all your accounts.
You have probably heard of 2-factor authentication (2FA). But have you actually implemented it yet?
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection to your account login process. When it’s enabled, you get a second verification step.
So, in addition to entering your username and (by now, I hope a secure) password, you’ll need to confirm your identity by providing additional information.
Examples include entering a text ( SMS) message, a code received through your email account, or receiving a call with a code to the phone number associated with your account.
The crucial thing is to enable this feature at two levels: the first relates to your email accounts and the second to your security device services accounts.
Imagine you have an unsecured Gmail account but a secured Ring account. Then Ring will send the verification message to your Gmail account.
The hackers will then be able to reset the Ring password and get the verification via your (unprotected) Gmail account. It’s even easier for them if you used the same password for both services!
In this article, we have compiled our top 5 basic tips for improving your home security’s security!
Secure your video cameras, secure your electronic smart locks! The most obvious pitfalls are often quite too techy, and you might not be aware of them. We hope they help you.
Now is the time to take action! Take 10 minutes now to improve your security measures so you can feel more comfortable in your own home.