5 Critical Things to Know About IP-Enabled Devices and Your Network

Wherever we go, the wide reach of technology is hard to escape. As the popularity of home offices, mobile devices and web-enabled home automation systems has risen we have begun sharing more sensitive and personal information across our networks and devices. This digital ecosystem enables us to be more productive and engaged. New online and remote access services offer both a variety and convenience that most consumers want access to day in, day out. With a large portion of our lives transmitted, controlled, stored, and reliant upon the security of our networks and ip-enabled devices, how do you know those systems are properly protected?

Threats to our home network and automation systems may seem like a distant reality however, home networks are often unmonitored and severely under-protected, leaving them vulnerable to external threats of every kind. Some threats are benign, but more often they can cause disruptive connectivity problem, loss of sensitive information or irreversible damage.

These threats are increasingly more common and recent examples include back door access into some of the most popular consumer-grade routers on the market, leaving many home networks very exposed. Another, known as Shodan, is a search engine that discovers devices connected to the internet such as security cameras, home automation systems, heating and air conditioning systems (HVAC), printers, webcams, and much more. Using these tactics users can easily detect vulnerable devices that are open to malicious outside attacks, sometimes with a simple click of a button.

Think about it. Many IP-enabled devices have known vulnerabilities or absolutely no security whatsoever, leaving them exposed and open to outside attacks. The thought that your home security and automation devices could very well be accessible to anyone with the right know-how is scary and worrisome. Shouldn’t your life to be more protected? Without a doubt, it absolutely should be.

So how do you protect your home, electronics and data? In today’s world of hyper-connectivity, it’s critical that you know the questions to ask and services to employ that will ensure your systems are secure and your devices protected.

Here are 5 things you should ask your integrator about the security of your home network.

1. What ongoing services for remote support, network security and protection do you offer?

You are paying your integrator to provide a service that should include some level of basic security and protection for your network. Make sure you understand what they are offering before the installation or ask them to confirm it afterward. Either way, have the conversation. Start by asking precisely how your systems are being protected. Are they offering you a firewall option for your network?  Are they providing regular maintenance to audit security logs and make necessary firmware updates to your network devices to ensure you are protected and up to date?

2. What is your company’s network security policy?

What is the company’s network security policy as it pertains to your home network? Do they install the right hardware with strong security configuration options? Are your network requirements such that you need a stronger firewall? If so, are they capable of providing the proper equipment and ongoing support?

How do they protect your network? Do they have a password policy? Many will try to put anything generic up as a password, thinking that they’re being clever, but “Password1” for instance, won’t be enough to stop programs that are targeting your systems. Who has remote access to your network and how is that access controlled and audited?

3. What kind of remote access is enabled for my network? What about my automation system?

Being able to access your devices and networks remotely is a convenient feature that’s offered by a lot of services. With remote access however, you must be very careful. If you are able to access your networks from anywhere you’d like, what is preventing others from accessing your networks with the same ease? There are many ways for remote access to be granted, but some ways are far more secure than others.

Consider this. When your integrator needs remote access to troubleshoot, change a setting or reboot a device, how are they accessing the network and associated devices? How secure are these remote access connections and what parts of the system are exposed as a result? Port Forwarding is a common technique that’s used to provide access, but it is also a very insecure method that exposes vulnerabilities and leaves your systems and devices wholly unprotected. The good news is, there are tools from companies such as ihiji that allow your integrator to more securely access and maintain your network remotely, while logging each point of access to fully protect your systems.

4. How are your systems being updated?

Good companies will continue to improve upon their systems as time goes by. Technologies are developing quickly and so your devices and their security measures should reflect upon those changes. How is your integrator ensuring that your network and devices will be safe in the future, not just today? How often are these security and firmware updates performed?

5. What can I do to ensure my systems are secure?

One of the biggest threats to a user’s online security is the user themselves. Once your integrator has done their job and has made sure they’ve protected everything they can – the rest is up to you. Be sure your integrator is educating you about online security practices, so that as the owner of your network and devices you understand how to implement security measures that are serving you as effectively as they were meant to be. With these measures in place, you can be sure that your networks and devices will be protected from being accessed, tampered with, or potentially damaged by devious network intruders.

While some of this may be concerning, use this information instead to become more informed and knowledgeable about your system, services available, and ways you can ensure your networks are safe, secure and working properly. The more you know, the safer your systems will be.

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