Do Wi-Fi Thermostats Make Homes Vulnerable to Hackers?

Smart home control dashboard with male using smartphone at home in the background

The Internet of Things (IoT) is all the rage these days with homeowners and families using Wi-Fi enabled equipment for everything from doorbells, to turning on the lights in their homes, arming their home security systems, and controlling the temperature inside their homes. But each of these convenient tools also increases your home’s vulnerability to cyber attacks and hackers.

All hackers need is access to your home’s network and these devices are easy pickings for talented hackers – offering them easy access to your home’s network and all the information stored within it. That includes files on your computers, browsing history, banking information, and, in some cases, personal information and passwords for your family members.

It also allows them access to work information that may be kept on laptops connected to home networks or on main computers and servers stored in your home. While some would argue that home networks are low-hanging fruit that few hackers would pursue, the fact remains that not all hackers are in it for financial gains or rewards but simply to cause mayhem, embarrass people by revealing personal, private information, or to make names for themselves within hacking communities. One hacker used the Wi-Fi enabled home thermostat to increase the temperature inside the home by 12 degrees.

In addition to doing all these things, hackers can also install malicious software, viruses, and malware on your home computers and devices connected to the network that may even disable them completely. Getting hacked is more than a simple inconvenience and costs. In fact, hacking costs more than 500,000 American jobs and more than $100 billion in damage to the U.S. economy each year.

Even if you know how to wire a thermostat properly, installing a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat in your home opens your entire household and family up to an increased risk of being hacked.

This doesn’t mean that homeowners can’t install Wi-Fi enabled equipment in their homes. What it does mean is that homeowners need to think defensively when doing so. This includes changing your home routers password from the default and using high quality passwords that are difficult to guess; updating IoT apps when security updates become available; and learning how to maintain security on each of your IoT devices, like Wi-Fi enabled thermostats. Taking the right steps today can save families and businesses from the pain and hassle of a hacking event.