WiFi - Real Protection or Security Theatre?


We have all heard the hacker horror stories - notebook computers being turned into spy cameras, baby monitors being used to eavesdrop or even talk to our kids, even new toys being used as crime tools. Security is usually an after-thought whenever we get a new toy or device because security is hard.

The Problem Is Only Getting Worse…

Most homes today are running wireless networks (WiFi) that handle network traffic for a large number of devices. How many? Let’s count: desktop computer, cellphone, tablet/pad, smartTV, streaming puck like iTV or Roku, video game console (XBox,Playstation, Nintendo), hand-held games (3DS, Sony Vita) - and that’s per person. In an average household of two parents and 2.4 kids, the number of devices connecting to the internet gets large fast.

As we introduce the Internet of Things (IoT) into our homes, the number of devices grows exponentially, as we start to control lights, security cameras, thermostats, garage door openers, sprinklers, refrigerators, and more - all connected through WiFi!

Each device is a potential security risk - or “threat vector” - that hackers can compromise to commit their nefarious acts. The more devices, the higher the odds that they can hack your household.

Myth versus Reality

Security is a spectrum. A number of commonly known protection features are more security theatre than actually effective. They provide little to no actual coverage. Other lesser-known features and techniques can actually provide a great deal of protection.

Make A Stand

Trying to secure each and every device as it comes into your home is going to get significantly harder as the number of devices continues to grow. The IoT device vendors are not adhering to any “security standards” either - after all, look how successful we’ve been trying to secure our traditional laptops, desktops, and mobile phones. However, IoT devices do have one thing in common - they all access the internet through your WiFi router! That’s where we need to make a stand.

Here we review the security methods of 18 WiFi features - the good, the bad, and the (really) surprising.