Are You Truly Safe With a Smart Home?
Most things that took computer access years ago are now able to be done with a few finger taps of a smartphone: Checking our account balance, making a car payment, and even monitoring blood sugar, to name a few.
But in the last few years, many have integrated smart homes into their everyday lives: Climate control; monitoring door and window locks; video surveillance… the future is now, many say, with having this connected access at the tap of a finger.
Yet concerns still linger. Icontrol’s 2015 Smart Home Report states that “most consumers see smart home as a nebulous term without a clear value proposition.”
This is not unwarranted; in fact, we must take a moment to ask ourselves if smart homes are secure, and if there are security flaws--which is oftentimes inevitable with any Internet of Things (IoT) technology-- what are ways we can mitigate problems and protect ourselves and our families?
Smart Homes and You
On the aforementioned home report, “90% agree that security is one of the most important reasons to purchase a smart home system.”
It’s true that a smart home with the proper security acumen in place can satisfy consumers’ desire for “devices that solve real, everyday problems.”
The following is also true about consumers’ reactions to smart homes*:
*These figures were drawn from the Smart Home Report, and are being presented here for insight.
- “Connected thermostats topped the list of the most popular smart home products”
- In 2015, more than 114 million people planned to buy smart home products
- Of those surveyed, user experience topped ‘cool gadgets’ and innovative technology
Smart technology (or connected devices) is an exciting new venture for unprecedented convenience and usability--but due to human error, technology is only as secure as its users, policies and processes.
When there’s a demand, supply goes up by default (most of the time).
The below chart from the Consumer Technology Association shows figures of smart home devices and controllers wholesale unit sales in the United States from 2014-2017:
Find more statistics at Statista
It’s important to understand this rapid projected increase will also place increased risk and more eyes on smart homes as a target for hackers.
Much like other IoT products that have been compromised, it’s about taking preventive measures, realizing there’s a breach and mitigating the damage--but many smart homeowners may not even realize there’s a problem.
Awareness is the Key
A recent report has shown Samsung SmartThings security is “rice paper weak at protecting things, and could let third parties let off fire alarms in people’s house at will.” The authors of this report even have videos to support their claims about the ability to override SmartThing security functions.
Their key findings are insightful for owners of smart homes:
"Our key findings are twofold. First, although SmartThings implements a privilege separation model, we found that SmartApps can be overprivileged. That is, SmartApps can gain access to more operations on devices than their functionality requires.
"Second, the SmartThings event subsystem, which devices use to communicate asynchronously with SmartApps via events, does not sufficiently protect events that carry sensitive information such as lock pin codes."
We realize this may be a lot to absorb at once. Even though the advent of smart homes have opened up a world of possibility, that means it comes with the good and the bad. Like any new technology, there are still a plethora of security measures that must be taken into consideration.
Connected devices carry an inevitable risk we need to be aware of; turning a blind eye can have grave consequences.
So, are you truly safe with a smart home? To answer that, you must branch out into your IoT devices and see if all of them are secure.
Otherwise, you’re just as good as caught in very the web you’ve created for yourself.