We all love the access our phones give us to our smart home devices allowing us to turn on our sprinklers, look at our cameras or even open the lock to our front door from anywhere in the world. However, in the process of setting up these devices, we are actually exposing ourselves to more likely attacks from hackers and the loss of personal/financial information in the process. How is our network security compromised you ask? Read on and find out!!
When a network connected device is connected to your network, it is hidden from view behind your router using the router’s firewall. That is great from a network safety standpoint, however that means this network connected device is hidden from view from your phone as well unless you happen to be connected to the same network via Wifi. Now controlling your smart home devices while you are on the same Wi-fi network is cool and all, but not nearly as cool as controlling those same devices while you are out to dinner with friends or vacationing overseas. In these latter cases, your phone is on a cell network outside your home and needs a way to be able to see past your firewall on your router so that it can control the smart home devices you desire to control.
The only way for your phone to see your smart home devices from outside your network is to open up “hidden doorways” in your router called “Ports.” These port settings are configured in your router and pointed to the IP address of the devices you want to control. Typically 2-3 ports are required for each device to send and receive data as well as to send and receive commands. These ports are usually all the same by default for each manufacturer and are left up to the user to change on their own. Unfortunately a lot of times consumers forget to change these ports from their default settings or don’t know how so they are left on their default settings.
Now comes the bad part of the story. As we all know the Internet contains information about just about everything. This would include a pretty comprehensive list of the default ports network connected devices use that anyone can look at. Enter the Computer Hacker. Now a good computer hacker can search out these default ports on a wide scale to look for ports that are open and gain access to the network connected devices inside. Since they know what device is connected to these ports based on the port information on the web, they can manipulate these devices as they see fit. Pretty scary stuff, right?
The good news is, there is a pretty easy way to not make yourself a target of this port hacking scenario I listed above. For all the network connected devices in your home that allow you control outside the network make sure you change any username and passwords from the default. Make them hard passwords to crack but something you can easily remember. Additionally, change the port settings on your router so that your external ports are different than the internal default ports. Or better yet, change your internal ports so they are different than the default.
We hope you have found this information useful. If you have any more specific questions about setting up network connected device for remote viewing and control, you can reach us at 855-832-4775 of find us on the web at www.technospeakco.com. If you have more general Home Automation or Home Theater needs, please feel free to contact us using the contact information above as well.
And as always remember, at Technospeak, we take the “Techy” out of Technology, leaving our customers with the knowledge they need to enjoy their electronics.