Cybercrime & Home Automation: Are We Ready for the Internet of Things?

January 15th, 2015

Household devices continue to get smarter, with the promise of greater convenience and comfort at the flip of a switch. Recent innovations have expanded on the concept of a “smart” house, proposing a connected home in which we can enjoy centralized and remote control of our devices. This new network of technology relies upon the “Internet of Things” – devices connected to each other via the Internet.

This technology may be new, but one of its greatest challenges is not: security. By now, most of us have first- or second-hand experience with identity theft – but does this new technology put our privacy and financial security on the line?

Here are a few ways to embrace smart technology with an even smarter strategy:

Integrated Household Systems

Talk to your broker about household Equipment Breakdown coverage. Homeowner’s policies usually will not cover the cost of investigating and repairing an integrated system if it breaks down, leaving you out-of-pocket to restore your integrated security, entertainment or comfort systems.

Homes without “smart” technology can also benefit from this coverage: complex systems including geothermal or radiant heating can be specifically insured, transferring the financial risk of a system failure to your insurer and protecting your household’s cash flow in the event of a breakdown.

Equipment Breakdown coverage is a flexible option, allowing you to purchase only as much coverage as you need and keeping the cost of coverage low.

Internet-Connected Devices

Don’t allow the Internet of Things to compromise your privacy. IP cameras, webcams, gaming consoles and similar devices allow us to observe our homes remotely and interact with family and friends – but they can be easily accessed by other parties if not properly secured .

Carefully follow the installation and security instructions included with self-installed wireless routers, IP cameras and webcams. Always create your own unique password to access each device. Never use the default password set by the manufacturer: these are publicly available and do not protect you from unauthorized access.

Set “strong” passwords: avoid commonly-used words and any words related to you or your family. The names of pets and children are easily guessed – instead, use words that nobody would associate with you, and utilize other digits and symbols – or use a secure password generator hosted by a reputable security provider .

As a general rule of thumb: any networked device with a camera is a potential security risk and should be set up to prevent unauthorized access. If in doubt, consider hiring a professional technician to install your new devices and explain how to use and maintain strong security settings.

Personal & Financial Information

Never access personal information using a public WiFi connection: these can be easily intercepted and viewed by others who may misuse the information they collect. This includes personal and work emails, online banking and social networking, all of which can provide an unauthorized user with access to a treasure trove of your personal information.

Protect your computers, tablets and smartphones by running up-to-date security software: newer products include cloud-based protection against “phishing” scams and dangerous websites.

If you use online banking, be sure to carefully review your bank’s Terms and Conditions as well as any guarantees they offer in the event that your accounts are compromised. These guarantees are often subject to very broad exclusions and can be voided by using passwords that don’t meet the bank’s requirements or even using the same password on more than one account.

Educate inexperienced Internet users about responsible browsing techniques and common scams. If a link or popup isn’t exactly what you were looking for, don’t click it. As for those “you won!” banners and popup ads…if you didn’t enter a contest, you didn’t win it either. Steer clear of enticements which draw your browser to sites and downloads which can compromise your security.

For more information on what your personal insurance covers, what it doesn’t cover, and what additional protection you can add, talk to one of our experts at Rogers Insurance.

How do you protect yourself against unwanted electronic intrusion? How can we help? Tell us below!

Blog Author: Stefan Tirschler | Account Executive | Rogers Signature Service

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