Experts often warn that smart devices could be a security risk, allowing hackers to break into home networks to steal data or cause disruption. But just how serious is the problem? Possibly worse than most of us realize.

Insecure devices are (really) easy to find

Back in 2009 a smart device fan called John Matherly set up a database to collect information about publicly accessible devices. Known as โ€˜Shodanโ€™, this database lists millions of internet-connected devices, along with details about what the device is, where it is located โ€“ and if it is still using the default password.

Because Shodan can be used by anyone, hackers can use the search engine to locate and target insecure devices. Insecure smart home devices like lightbulbs and plugs are not of much interest to hackers โ€“ but they can be used to gain access to your network. Once connected to your devices, criminals will begin attacking other, more important devices โ€“ like your computer and smartphone.

Shodan was set-up with good intentions, but it now represents a genuine threat to anyone with smart home devices.

What can I do to protect my smart home from Shodan hackers?

Even if your devices are listed in Shodan, there are some things you can do to better protect yourself:

  1. Change your passwords

Every device, including your home broadband router, ships with a default password. And unless you change it, hackers can obtain and misuse that information quite easily. To avoid being hacked, change the default password on all your network-connected devices.

  1. Close unused network ports

Your home broadband router acts like a wall, stopping hackers from accessing your devices. But some devices and apps need to be able to get through that wall โ€“ and they do that through a โ€˜portโ€™. Each port acts like a special pipe that permits access through the wall โ€“ but the more ports you have open, the greater the risk that a hacker will break in. Closing unused ports will help to reduce that risk โ€“ contact your broadband internet service provider for further advice and guidance on what you can do.

  1. Install a firewall

No matter what you do, there is always a chance that hackers will break into your network using your smart home devices. But you can limit the damage they cause using a firewall on all of your computers. A firewall acts just like the โ€˜wallโ€™ built into your router, automatically identifying and blocking suspicious activity before the criminals can steal data or disrupt your computer.

Protecting your network with Panda Dome

Panda Dome can help you better protect against Shodan-inspired attacks. As well as market-leading malware detection and removal, Panda Dome also includes a personal firewall โ€“ which means that you can stop hackers from stealing your most sensitive, valuable information.

To learn more about Panda Dome and the built-in firewall, download a free trial.