The internet is swarming with viruses, malware and even hackers, but not everyone pictures this directly affecting their home life. Some virtual intruders want to steal identities by hacking into laptops or smart phones, while others simply want to spy on people through a webcam or baby monitor. Moreover, hackers are increasingly targeting smart homes, which have devices that can be utilized as peepholes into a homeowner’s private life, or worse, an open portal for them to break into the home physically or virtually.
With the rise in “Internet of Things” products, and major corporations like Target rolling out an entire smart home store display, consumers will need to be more vigilant about what kind of access uninvited virtual guests have to their homes through connected devices. To protect their privacy and personal information, consumers can do several things outside the obvious antivirus solutions, such as using more complicated passwords, as well as hiding their router from public view.
Another option is for them to use a device that plugs into their router and provides a barrier against hackers around every connected device in their home that antivirus software can’t protect. Below, the innovators behind one such device, CUJO, offer their expertise on why consumers should be more aware of the vulnerabilities that lie in their connected devices, and how they can protect themselves.
What are some of the common devices that consumers forget they’re using that leave them open to hackers?
Printers, CD/DVD players, stereo receivers, TVs are often overlooked, but used daily. Many of these have network connections and often don't have updates. Even when they do, consumers would have to go into the setup to even see if an update is available. When the device is not updated, it leaves it more vulnerable to hackers, as the updates often include patches that provide added security. – Brian Knopf
As smart homes become more prevalent, will we see an increase in hacks and compromised personal security?
With billions of new devices getting connected every year, there will unfortunately be an increase in home hacks in the near future. Traditional security solutions are not well equipped to defend your network full of these new IoT devices. It will require both a concentrated effort by device makers as well as new security solutions aimed at protecting the entire home network before this avalanche of new virtual threats can be reversed. – Einaras Gravrock
Do you think it should be the consumer or the manufacturer that deals with security of their devices?
It will certainly require a collective effort by device makers, consumers, and security companies to reverse the trend. Device makers have to treat security more seriously. The most prominent of them have made great improvements with regards to security lately. With that said, we are already seeing a massive variety of device makers in our homes. For example, in the past we had Samsung, Sony, and a few other main-stream company devices. Now with so many new “smart device” companies popping up, there are many more to choose from. And it only takes one rogue device to take over the rest of the network. Consumers will have to be more vigilant when sharing personal information and providing access to new devices. Security companies such as CUJO will relieve much of the burden, but for our customers to be completely safe they will have to be careful when selecting device vendors and take steps to avoid obvious security blunders. – Einaras Gravrock
What is CUJO and how does it work?
CUJO is a plug-and-play, smart home security device that protects the connected home from the latest and most-sophisticated virtual intrusions such as malware, viruses and hacking techniques. By using behavior recognition analysis, CUJO learns the patterns of how a user’s devices are connected and talk to each other. It can then recognize potential security threats by identifying and blocking atypical interactions among devices such as computers, smart phones, baby monitors, TV’s and cameras. With smart homes containing dozens of connected devices, the “Internet of Things” has opened up a world of new electronic vulnerabilities. CUJO affords consumers the peace of mind and freedom to live the connected life, enjoying technology in the comfort and security of their homes. – Einaras Gravrock
How is it different from other cybersecurity software or devices on the market?
Other devices on the market are focusing on antivirus, malware, and firewall solutions. While we have implemented those, we are looking at the behavior of each device and comparing it against what the device should be doing, or how it should be accessed. If for instance you use a phone to connect via an app to a camera, if a request to that camera comes from another device, we will block it. – Brian Knopf
Do I need a specialist to install CUJO?
We designed CUJO with simplicity in mind. From starting the device to using our app, customers will appreciate the ease-of-use. To activate their CUJO device, customers will simply connect it to their power source and their router, and to launch our app. No extra configuration will be necessary. – Einaras Gravrock
What are some of the major home security breaches that consumers have faced that made you decide to invent CUJO?
The breaches that made us want to build CUJO were the Foscam breach, where someone accessed a Webcam and was spying on people. Also, the Mi Casa Verde VeraLight, which allowed the attackers to load malicious code on a device and then execute it, make changes to or access the devices on the network attached to the Verde. Finally, the WeMo Switch attack, which was a local attack that flooded the network with traffic until the device rebooted, and the attacker could get into the device. These and others made us realize there had to be another way to protect devices. – Brian Knopf
What are some other DIY ways people can ensure they are safely using their internet-connected devices in their home?
We cover many tips on our blog at www.getcujo.com/blog. However we suggest starting with:
- Passwords should be at least 12 (16 is better) characters and include upper, lower, numbers, and symbols. Start with changing your computer and router passwords. And change them frequently, at least four times a year. Do not reuse passwords across sites. Enable 2-factor authentication whenever possible, since then the password length does not matter as much. Make sure your password reset questions do not have answers that can be figured out by posts on your Facebook or other social media sites (pet names, schools you attended, middle name, maiden name). The reset function is usually the easiest way to get into someone's account.
- Protect your router. Make sure the router password is a strong WPA2 password. (not just the network password, but the actual router pass as well). Hide your network from appearing in the network list.
- Update your software as soon as new updates are available. This especially applies to your security software and router firmware.
- When possible and safe, disconnect devices that are not in use.
- Avoid public internet networks when as much as possible.
– Brian Knopf
About Einaras Gravrock
Einaras Gravrock is the founder and CEO of CUJO, a plug-and-play, smart home security device that protects the connected home from the latest and most-sophisticated virtual intrusions such as malware, viruses and hacking techniques. Under his leadership, e-commerce and technology companies have achieved exponential revenue growth. Among his achievements, Einaras has taken online fashion site, Modnique, from a napkin concept to a $50 million a year company within five years, and helped Bidz.com become a NASDAQ-traded $600 million enterprise. His expertise in marketing, business development, global e-commerce and the use of disruptive technologies has earned him a place as one of Goldman Sachs’ “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.”
About Brian Knopf
Brian Knopf is the CTO of CUJO, a plug-and-play, smart home security device that protects the connected home from the latest and most-sophisticated virtual intrusions such as malware, viruses and hacking techniques. A savvy software architect with 20 years of experience in IT and security application development, Brian’s expertise fortifying software and hardware against virtual threats is unsurpassed. Prior to CUJO, he has led engineering teams at Belkin, Myspace and Rapid7, as well as founding his own internet security research and consulting company. Through his participation in security research groups such as OWASP, I Am the Calvary and BuildItSecure.ly, Brian created a 5-Star Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) rating system to inform consumers of the security, safety, and privacy of IoT devices.
CUJO is a plug-and-play, smart home security device that protects the connected home from the latest and most-sophisticated virtual intrusions such as malware, viruses and hacking techniques. By using behavior recognition analysis, CUJO learns the patterns of how a user’s devices are connected and talk to each other. It can then recognize potential security threats by identifying and blocking atypical interactions among devices such as computers, smart phones, baby monitors, TV’s and cameras. With smart homes containing dozens of connected devices, the “Internet of Things” has opened up a world of new electronic vulnerabilities. CUJO affords consumers the peace of mind and freedom to live the connected life, enjoying technology in the comfort and security of their homes.