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Trick or Treat: The risk of IoT at home and how to be safe even from ghosts

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Trick or Treat: The risk of IoT at home and how to be safe even from ghosts

Have you ever wondered if your house is haunted? Halloween just went by and you might be more receptive than the usual, and also more aware of the ghosts and spirits around you. All jokes aside, the more chilling things are those we are not capable of seeing.


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For this year’s halloween, Sophos launched the project “haunted house”, side by side with the industrial automation specialist Koramis. The final results of this investigation project will be published in November 2017, nevertheless the first provisional results of the project revealed more than 70,000 access attempts from 24,089 individual IPS to a virtual home set up for the project. Unfortunately, this haunted house phenomenon is not just a halloween isolated event, but a constant danger to your smart home if you don’t address the issue in the right way.

Reinforcing the security of your smart home’s systems in the widest context possible is key. The project also includes active internet scannings for domestic dispositives through search engines like Shodan or Censys.

An investigation that started in October, gave as a result more than 68.000 open web interfaces from components of well established smart homes that are used mainly in private homes as wireless window contacts, smoke detectors, automatic opening door systems and video surveillance systems. All of these dispositives were easily accessible from the internet. Likewise, the visualisation through heat maps shows that IoT technology concentrates in cities and urban centres like Barcelona or Madrid, but it blurs in rural or countryside areas.

These results focus on the importance of being careful when you build your own smart home.

8 Tips to protect yourself from cyber delinquents and maintain a good and safe smart house . 

  • Keep your domestic network private and don’t share it with other people .
  • Don’t connect your IoT devices to your domestic network unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, your smart TV shouldn’t be connected to your WLAN if you mainly use cable to watch it.
  • Build a separate network for your IoT devices. Your router can create multiple networks (segmentation) and you should assign a special network specifically to your IoT devices, in order to interrupt the access to your usual network.
  • Build several closed networks in different WLAN. It is better if you build several closed network areas, for your home office, your entertainment systems, your security and surveillance systems and a guest network to avoid random people using your main network. With each area operating in a different WLAN, a firewall can be enabled to allow only the necessary communication to use the components but not the infiltration of an infection from one IoT device to another.
  • Always use secure VPN technology. You shouldn’t use unsafe port forwarding to gain remote access to your IoT dispositives from the internet. Instead you can use secure VPN technology in your smartphone, MAC or PC.
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