In the African setting, parents have always had a keen eye on their children. Snoopy questions like, ‘huyo kijana unaongea naye ni nani?’ (Who is that boy you are talking to?) are/have been a staple in the lives of millions of Kenyans while growing up. However, most of us don’t have the same vigilance when it comes to the use of technology in our homes. Technology is here to stay but with it comes exposure, which can be dangerous if left unchecked. Here are three cybersecurity threats to watch out for in your homes according to the Kenya Cybersecurity Report 2017.
IP Cameras and Nanny Cams
In a society where many more moms are now working, a nanny cam and IP cameras (cameras connected to the internet) have become essential tools featuring in many parents’ arsenals. You can use them to monitor your child, or the elderly when you are not around, in addition to keeping errant househelps in check. However, according to the cybersecurity report, most of these cameras are misconfigured and come with default factory passwords that are easily susceptible to hackers.
Considering such cameras are often placed in intimate rooms including baby rooms and bedrooms; the danger of having a hacker-possibly a pervert, able to see everything in your life needs no telling. Worse still, you won’t even know when it’s happening. As a precaution, ensure you set up a unique multi-character password (include numbers, letters, unique characters spaces etc.) immediately you install your camera. Additionally, read the manuals carefully to ensure that they are securely configured before using.
Home internet penetration is on the rise in Kenya, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya, fibre internet connections in 2017 numbered 90,534. SurfKenya, Faiba, Safaricom, Zuku, and hundreds of other smaller private internet service providers are bringing wired internet into homes. However, considering homeowners are not all IT gurus, most of us do not put consideration into the security configurations of the Wi-Fi routers we buy or allow to be installed in our houses.
The Kenya Cybersecurity report cites the possibility of malicious attackers with access to your Wi-Fi, launching attacks to websites that belong to other organisations even without your direct involvement. This could get you in trouble with the law, furthermore, other websites will label you as a security threat and could block you. Not to forget that your Wi-Fi could get painfully slow-try streaming your favourite online programmes while your hacker neighbour is using the same internet to run his/her thriving movie business.
As a precautionary measure, ensure that before you decide on a home internet service provider, inquire about the type of security features their router will have. Ask them to show you how to change the default credentials (routers come with default passwords that are easier to hack), set a strong password for your Wi-Fi. Explore your router, change the network name from the default name to your own, set the security type to WPA2 (don’t mind the jargon, you will see it as one on the options offered).
Furthermore, you can set-up a guest Wi-Fi network for visitors if your router allows you. A friend may unknowingly have corrupted software on their laptops that may be a threat when connected to your network; you can also buy your own router instead of using the service providers.
In October 2017, hackers took control of 100,000 smart devices and used their computing power as weapons to block access to popular websites including Twitter and Netflix. How? Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), devices are now connected to each other via the internet, from smart TVs, phones, fridges, computers, CCTV cameras, Wi-Fi routers etc.
Attackers take control of devices to login in using the default passwords devices come with from the factory, this leaves them free to command your devices like lifeless zombies to do their bidding. The best form of defence against such attacks is to always change the default passwords when you get a new CCTV camera, smart TV, fridge, phone etc. Additionally, don’t use the same password across multiple devices, as if hackers break into one, the rest are also at risk.
Read more about other security risks here – Cybersecurity Trends 2018: A Look Into Ransomware