Locking Digital Doors: Enhancing Home Cybersecurity

Image by jcomp on Freepik

As my exploration into the realm of security commenced during my college years, I used my own home as a proving ground, an experimental laboratory. This sparked an affection for home security that rivaled my interest in enterprise security. You might ponder, “What’s the difference?” Indeed, numerous parallels and intersections exist between the two, but the crucial divergence lies primarily in their driving forces.

Enterprise security is fundamentally cost-centric. The balance of security decisions often teeters on the risk a company is willing to shoulder against the investment it’s ready to commit. While this perspective might seem oversimplified, it captures the essence of organizational security decisions: they’re invariably tied to financial considerations.

On the contrary, home security, though arguably subjected to similar risk-reward dynamics, is motivated by a unique set of factors. Privacy for household members and the need for family content moderation is paramount among these. Key questions arise: how do we safeguard our information’s confidentiality, integrity, and privacy? Furthermore, how can we effectively control and limit the type of content our children and loved ones access? These concerns extend from evading illicit and illegal content to broader objectives like shielding children from potentially harmful content and managing their screen time.

While my delineation might not be foolproof, the point remains that these decisions, in a domestic setting, are not dictated by business considerations. They aren’t intended to save money, fend off litigation, or comply with specific regulations.

Returning to our primary focus—enhancing home security—my mission with this series of articles is to assist readers in implementing more robust home security measures. I propose to categorize home security into several tiers, from the simplest to the most complex. Remember, though, that with increasing complexity comes an augmented need for investment in terms of both time and capital expenditure (CAP EX). Further, the more intricate your home network, the more time you’ll need to dedicate to its regular upkeep and maintenance.

We live in an era where cyber security’s importance is universally acknowledged. Still, in a home setting, the onus of cyber security is often left to the manufacturers. We place our trust in the products we buy and allow on our networks. However, if history has taught us anything, it’s that blind trust in the market—even with the most stringent regulations—can lead to privacy breaches.

For instance, in 2016, I purchased a home security system amidst a saturated market full of diverse offerings. My choice was driven by the system’s extensive feature set and expandability. However, my firewall started alerting me to suspicious traffic from the newly installed system’s hub and cameras as soon as they connected to my network. The device attempted to send traffic to blocked countries in Asia. The volume of telemetry data and details about other devices on my network being sent were alarming. Despite being a U.S.-based company, this breach of trust led me to return the system immediately.

Likewise, home assistants like Google Home or Alexa need careful scrutiny. Their communication can be regulated by blocking or permitting specific audio/video channels and restricting their usage based on the time of day. For instance, these devices shouldn’t communicate when no one is home, and their camera usage can be disabled on the network.

Lastly, the ubiquity of IoT devices presents another challenge. From thermostats to fridges, they are notoriously difficult to secure and often lack robust security measures from manufacturers. Having a home network security system mitigates these issues and provides some peace of mind.

I’m not entirely sure who this series is for—perhaps it’s for my daughter or anyone who finds it useful. I’m always open to answering any queries from readers.

In terms of scope, I will primarily focus on tools, techniques, and architectures to bolster your home security. While total security is unattainable and often requires shifting trust from one service provider to another, we can mitigate existing risks.

As I write various articles on this topic, they will be updated below, with the latest on top and the earliest at the bottom.

Scroll to Top