A Firewall Helps To Secure Your Home
You’ve probably seen the commercials for Amazon Echo. Echo utilizes Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa. In the commercial we see Alexa playing a song on a stereo, ordering pizza, dimming lights and adjusting the temperature on the thermostat. All of this functionality is possible thanks to cloud computing. All of the devices Echo controls including Echo itself are connected to the internet.
As our homes grow “smart” through the installation of devices like a Nest thermostat or camera or Phillips Hue to control your lights we expose more of our lives to the world. While having a connected smart home is incredibly convenient there are also some security concerns that users need to be aware of.
On Friday October 21, 2016 Dyn, a company that provides critical internet infrastructure for much of the internet on the east coast of the United States was subjected to a DDoS attack. A Distributed Denial of Services attack (DDoS) is one in which tens of thousands of zombie computers (computers that have been taken over by hackers) submit DNS requests to specific servers. The sheer number of requests overwhelms the servers and prevent them from servicing legitimate requests.
DNS stands for Domain Name System and translates website IP addresses into friendly names that humans can remember; for example google.com = 126.96.36.199. It’s much easier to remember google.com! This service was interrupted on Friday morning and for a few hours many websites were unavailable.
What is interesting about last Friday’s attack is that instead of zombie computers being responsible for the outage it was launched by malware known as Mirai that exploited weak default passwords on internet connected cameras and DVRs!
We at TricycleFish have always preached the gospel with regard to passwords:
- Change the default password on all your devices.
- Use complex passwords that have upper and lower case letters, number and symbols.
- Use long passwords of 8 or more characters.
- Change them at least twice per year.
- Use a password manager. We recommend lastpass.com.
As more of our homes become smart it’s important to secure all of your devices. One of the best ways to do this is to install a hardware firewall for your home. A firewall helps to secure your home by filtering all inbound and outbound internet traffic. It only allows legitimate traffic in and out.
Installing and configuring a firewall is beyond the purview of most home owners and would normally require the help of any IT support company. However, we have found what promises to be an excellent security solution for any home and any user can install it for themselves: Bitdefender Box.
While we have not personally tested this product it’s specification meet all our of security recommendations. If you are looking to make your home more secure we suggest taking a look at this device.
If you have any questions regarding making your network more secure we would love to answer them. Please send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.