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Securing your Smart Home/Office Network from Hackers

From being able to keep watch on our home or business with smart security cameras, to maintaining a comfortable temperature, smart tech has become a key enabler to everyday life – both at home and in the office. But it isn’t without its problems, and the main problem – as with anything else connected to the internet – is security.

Whether it be from high-tech thieves who want to make money from you, to prying eyes who want to gaze into your life – there’s someone out there, looking to access your connected world and make it work for them, financially or for the pure thrill of disruption.

The IP threat

One of the most popular methods hackers use to breach target networks is by intercepting IP addresses – the unique numerical code assigned to every private or public device or website connected to a network.

IP addresses can change regularly if your ISP decides to switch, because the majority are dynamic IP addresses. Some are static and never change, but this is down to your individual provider.

Another consideration is public vs. private IPs. Public IPs are again, issued by your ISP and are broadcast, so that your device is widely reachable, but because they are broadcast publicly, they are vulnerable to attack.

Private IPs are assigned to each device by the router, but aren’t viewable by the outside world, unless our router is hacked.

Types of IP attacks

Hackers can use your IP address to launch any number of attacks, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack, where your address is hit with multiple requests at once, making it unreachable, or so-called Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks – whereby they intercept traffic intended for your address and take what they want, before allowing it on its way.

MITM attacks are among the most popular, because an assailant doesn’t have to attack your entire system, which is replete with firewalls and other such protections, they instead go for the information which is sitting, vulnerable, in the public sphere.

These attacks can lead to loss of information, banking details, credit card numbers and a whole lot more to boot. They’re particularly hard to deal with because, often, the only sign that your traffic has been sent on a meandering journey on its way to you will be a slight change in the number of seconds it has taken to resolve your request.

Using DDNS to protect your network

One of the most effective ways you can ensure your smart home/office setup stays efficient and secure is by seeking out and employing a Dynamic Domain Name System (DDNS) service.

A DDNS is something that keeps you up to date with any changes to your IP addresses, allowing your devices to send and receive information from the internet, without disruption. It will allow you to keep your devices up and running after your IP has changed and, critically, will permit you to see when any unauthorised changes have been made, such as those experienced during a security breach.

A simplistic way of viewing a DDNS is to imagine that an interfering party was paying your postal worker to deliver your letters to them first, so that they can be read, before bringing them to you (the aforementioned Man in the Middle attack).

The DDNS would be the friendly postmaster, calling to let you know changes were afoot, so you could step in and fix them.

This friendly postmaster also keeps a lookout for whenever you move house, and makes sure all your mail reaches you without you having to endure the arduous task of telling everyone you’ve moved. Much like the postmaster, DDNS understand when your IP address changes so that devices such as your camera and thermostat know how to connect to the internet, while at the same time securing your IP from malicious hackers.

A network which is set up to make use of a DDNS is simply a more secure network, underpinned by a series of complex algorithms, which are designed to look for change so that you don’t have to; a technological watchdog, if you will, and its value shouldn’t be understated.

So if you’re looking to ensure that your smart office, or smart home network stay safe, secure and out of the reach of meddling hackers, you should take a long and hard look at the benefits of a DDNS, because it could save you not only time, but money and of course, the loss of your privacy.


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Whois: Clare Hopping

Clare Hopping has been writing about technology for more than 12 years, originally focusing on consumer matters, now specialising in the B2B cloud and IT industry. She can be found on Twitter @clarehopping