Talking cyber security for smart homes - what you should know

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Smart devices can make our lives more convenient. But many of us also worry about the possible danger - of having everything so connected.

In Tech Talk, Derek Kevra digs deeper with a cyber-security expert, to find out what you need to know.

"From the iPhone I can control the thermostat, I can control lights, I can control the front door with the doorbell," said Caston Thomas.

Thomas is a tech enthusiast with a connected home. He has a smart thermostat, smart lightbulbs, outlets and cameras. Is he worried about the security of it all?

"I don't lose sleep over it," he said. "I have taken the precautions that I need in order to fix those things. But any time you have anything connected to the internet security should be of concern. 

Analysts anticipate that by the year 2020, there will be over 20 billion smart devices in use. And while some gadgets like phones and tablets have built in security, smaller items don't. And really, it's simple. 

"It's got a computer chip, it can be hacked," Thomas said.  

David Derigiotis, a cyber-security expert from Burns and Wilcox, says it wouldn't be hard for a hacker to get into your smart home and unlock your smart dead bolt. 

"You could have strong encryption, you could have a very good product, maybe it's a dead bolt maybe it's a camera," he said. "But if you have a lightbulb that's the weak spot, somebody could get in through the lightbulb and penetrate the entire network."

David showed FOX 2 the program bad guys use to find wireless networks. 

"What you are going to see here is a specific location," he said. "This is the individuals or the business. SSID, which is the wireless network name, and what this shows are the level of encryption. The one that has the broken lock has no encryption, the ones that say WEP is a huge red flag those are easily hackable."

Some major companies like Comcast understand this, and are coming out with software to battle it. 

"It's called XFI Advance Security," said Michelle Gilbert, Comcast. "It. uses Artificial Intelligence it and basically protects all of the device that's are connected to your Wi-Fi."

So yes, smart devices are fun, and can make life easier. But it's up to you to think about security. 

"In the old world we had to worry about people coming into our neighborhood and breaking in," Thomas said. "With the internet, everyone in the world has the potential to break into our homes with all of these devices."

So as a consumer make sure your router is not something that is easily traced to you like your full name, and make sure the password is long and changed from time to time. Also, when purchasing smart devices stick with name brands - don't go bargain hunting. those knockoffs lack built in security software.