Routers now play a pivotal role in home networks, as the average number internet-connected devices per household is estimated to reach 6.4 billion in 2016. More than 49 million U.S. households now own a connected TV or other type of attached content device, and penetration is increasing 14 percent year-over-year, according to recent surveys.
The United Kingdom also sports a high number of internet-connected devices, as the average household owns 7.4 internet devices, with 40 percent of households buying a tablet in the last year. With the proliferation of “smart things” that can control everything from temperature to automatically buying detergent -- even smart doorbells -- the number of IoT (internet-of-things) devices is estimated to reach 38 billion by 2020, from 13.4 billion in 2015.
The Vulnerable Router
With so many household devices asking for an internet connection, the home router acts as the only gateway between cybercriminals and your home. Since smart things connect directly to the router, the average consumer needs to realize that, if an attacker compromises even a single device, it could lead to total network takeover.
And, as if a wide range of smart devices with security vulnerabilities weren’t enough, home routers are also vulnerable to various types of attacks. More than 300,000 home routers were compromised in 2014, only allowing cybercriminals access to users’ networks, and enabling them to launch various cybercriminal activities, such as denial of service.
It stands to reason that home users not only need an integrated home cybersecurity solution replacing traditional security software, but also to at least follow a couple of simple steps towards securing their routers.
To understand just how important securing your router is, imagine leaving your front door open all the time. Everyone – strangers included – can come in, and they can rob you blind. The solution would be to lock the door and start using a burglar alarm. The home router is, in a sense, the door you need to lock and only allow family members – or trusted individuals – to come in.
The Scary Part of IoT
While smart devices have the potential to augment every aspect of our lives, the prospect of having them tampered with and used against us is more than just a bad dream – it’s a reality. More than 25 vulnerabilities – on average – were found per device during a small study design to test whether such devices can be trustworthy. Proving that the found vulnerabilities can be used to collect personal user information or even sniff network passwords, Bitdefender researchers have pointed out that even harmless smart light bulbs can be used against you.
Besides Barbie dolls and smart fridges that have been found packing remotely exploitable vulnerabilities, even a Wi-Fi-enabled TrackingPoint sniper rifle was found remotely hackable, allowing an attacker to tamper with the scope’s calculations, disable its computer and, ultimately, cause the shooter to miss his target.
While most of this research was for proof-of-concept purposes, researchers concluded that IoT devices can be used to not only compromise home networks, but also breach user privacy and relinquish control of smart homes to cybercriminals.
Is the Router Enough?
Properly securing your router is always the best way to go. Changing default administrator passwords, hiding your network’s SSID (network name), constantly updating its firmware and even adding MAC filtering capabilities are always great first steps towards building your home network security.
Having an integrated home cybersecurity solution is another way to go towards achieving an added level of protection not only for your network, but also for all household smart devices.
The Bitdefender Box is an innovative home network appliance that can protect everything from your average laptop and smartphone to every smart thing that requires an active internet connection. Constantly monitoring, the Bitdefender Box warns whenever malicious or suspicions actions target your devices and allows you to take informed decisions on how to deal with them.
Packing an elegant design, the Bitdefender Box sits between your home network router and your devices, preventing cybercriminals from tampering with them. By successfully combining design and security, the Bitdefender Box is the best integrated home cybersecurity solution. It can give you the privacy and peace of mind you deserve.