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Home network security in the IoT era
Adrian Hsieh
September 25, 2018

Home network security in the IoT era

The Internet is a double-edged sword

According to Cisco Visual Network Index (VNI), there will be an average of 35 IoT devices in every household by 2020, which means people will have plenty of smart devices installed in their homes, such as smart locks, fridges, and TVs. While we enjoy the luxury technology brings, the Internet we use at home has become a sitting duck for hackers, causing more and more malicious attacks at the same time. On top of that, since devices we use are often connected under the same network, once a device has been attacked, hackers can easily sabotage the entire network and paralyze your devices. To put it short, the more devices you use, the more susceptible you are.

How they attack

Generally speaking, there are two methods for hackers to attack: 

Method 1: Through an IoT device

Many IoT devices sacrifice adequate settings for a more convenient user experience. Devices such as smart plugs and printers that hide firmware flaws in the office are breach points for hackers. Those devices often have simple functions. Users would like to spend time on tasks other than protecting weak devices. Due to the lack of traditional antivirus software installed, these devices are like a welcome mat to hackers.

Method 2: Through a router

In order to change the DNS server settings, hackers find firmware flaws to mislead you to a phishing website to steal and collect your personal data. According to the latest discovery from Trend Micro Inc., household routers are attacked over 519 million times in 20 weeks across 20 countries. Seventy percent of them are inbound attacks, and the other 30% are outbound attacks initiated by hackers.

What is our defense

Despite the increase in hacks, people still care more about whether they could get connected to the Internet than whether they could have full security over their devices. As we enter the era of IoT, the concept of the traditional Internet is inadequate. On average, there is an attack on router loopholes every 3 days. The importance of router safety is often overlooked by people shopping on a budget.

However, the following are the reasons why the router is the key to defending your network. It can prevent us from accidentally accessing malicious websites and it stops hackers from seeing vulnerable entry points into our network. The first step to a secure Internet connection is to own a router that repairs its flaws or loopholes.

Hackers attack IoT devices through our routers, which means we can protect these devices with well-equipped routers. Traditional routers only have simple settings for user convenience. Luckily, in the past two years, there have been new routers launched in the market. The following tips can give you a better picture of the Internet infrastructure at home: 

Tip 1:

With some routers that have traffic monitor, we can observe if there is any abnormal usage of the Internet. Say a sudden burst of Internet usage or a device that consumes most of the bandwidth, it could be an incident caused by ransomware that synchronizes encrypted files onto cloud applications. In that case, no matter where we are, we can disconnect the Internet at home through our mobile devices.

Tip 2:

Some routers have several built-in databases that have domain names of malicious websites. With the help from threat intelligence databases, we are able to record browsing history from devices connected to the router and when a device visits a malicious website, we can spot it and take away its access permission on time.

Tip 3:

Threat Prevention installs an additional layer of protection at your perimeter, even silently safeguarding the IoT devices on your network. With intrusion prevention software (IPS), we can stop malicious packets from getting into our network. This feature is no longer a privilege just for business users, but a necessity for everyone.

The basic human rights in the era of IoT: Internet security

In the network connectivity market, there are more and more companies developing brand new routers with advanced UI, routers included. We think this is a good sign that proves users are more aware of the management capabilities of their network. We picture a world with safer Internet where people can protect their privacy. In the foreseeable future, we believe our mobile devices will be a part of the IoT. No matter where we are, we reserve the right to surf the Internet safely.