Smart Home Technology - The Home Security Risks Behind Today's Not-So-Smart Home Devices
From various kitchen appliances to complete home security systems, smart home technology is becoming increasingly popular among today's homeowners. But is the convenience of these so-called smart devices worth the home security risk they pose?
Since the onset of what has been pegged as the Internet of Things (IoT), electronic home devices such as lights, thermostats, alarms, and security cameras are able to be easily accessed and controlled with a smart phone or computer with Internet access. While the convenience of this technology is enticing to homeowners, few are aware of its home security risks.
In a recent study conducted by Synack, a security research company, a number of security issues were found among a range of today's common smart home devices. According to an article by CBS news, home security cameras that can be accessed remotely through the Internet pose the greatest risk. Home automation centers, thermostats, and even smoke and carbon monoxide alarms also present a number of security issues. One of Synack's analysts was also reported as being able to hack into several of the devices examined in the study in as little as 20 minutes. The reason cited for the security downfalls of these smart home devices is the failure of manufacturers to "think about security front and foremost."
Home Security Tips for Smart Home Technology Users
If there's anything to be learned from the Synack study, it's that it's up to you to ensure the safety and security of the products you bring into your home. If you already have smart home devices in your residence or if you're thinking about bringing these devices into your home, it is very important to understand the security risks surrounding these devices and how to protect against them.
The following are ways you can decrease the risk of having smart home devices hacked and your home security compromised.
- Use a hard-wired internet connection instead of a wireless connection. Wireless internet or Wi-Fi is much easier to hack into than a hard-wired internet connection. A hard-wired home network uses Ethernet cables to connect computers and other devices to the network router. Although running cables from room to room can be a challenge, hard-wired networks are cheaper, faster, and much more secure than wireless systems.
- Use of strong passwords. If you are going to communicate remotely with smart home devices, it is extremely important to use strong passwords. Short and simple passwords are fairly easy for hackers to figure out. This is especially true for a hacker who knows you, as many people use familiar words and numbers to create passwords, such as their children's or pet's name, birthdates, etc. Using the same or a similar password for every system is also very risky.
Strong passwords that are different from one another can significantly decrease the chance of a security breach. According to Microsoft, a strong password is one that is at least six characters long, makes use of both upper case and lower case letters, in addition to numbers and symbols. Never use your user name in the password, or any other personally identifiable words or numbers.
- Secure your smart phones and computers. One of the mistakes people make when accessing their smart home devices is failing to properly secure the cell phones and/or computers they use to communicate with these devices. For example, many people choose the "Remember Me" feature for convenience so that they don't have to enter their user name and password each time they log into their smart home system. Others fail to secure their smart phones and computers with strong passwords. Both are huge mistakes, as a security breach on your smart phone or computer can turn into a security nightmare for a home or office with multiple interconnected devices.
If you are going to communicate with your smart home devices using a cell phone, work computer, tablet, or another remote device, ensure the devices you use are properly secured with a strong password. Also, do not use the "Remember Me" feature—enter your user name and password every time. That way if the security of your phone or computer is ever compromised, you won't have to worry about providing access to other devices, such as a home's security system or a home web cam.
- Increase your home's security. The best way to protect against a burglary or home invasion is to equip your residence with home security devices that prevent forcible entries. Such devices include a security door brace for entry doors that swing inward, and protective glass security film for your home's windows and sliding glass doors.
An early warning device without smart home technology, such as the OnGard Walk-About wireless home surveillance system, can also help keep you and your family safe. While this system allows for wireless communication between the unit's portable viewing monitor and its four surveillance cameras, it is not equipped with the smart home technology that allows devices to be accessed and controlled through an online network. The transmission of the video and audio feed of the Walk-About device is protected by a 2.4 GHz secured spectrum system, meaning there's no chance of interference or privacy leaks.
Be Smart About Your Home Security
As a homeowner, it's up to you to do your research and assess the risks of bringing today's smart technology into your home. Don't leave it to some company to tell you how smart or convenient their products are for you and your family. When it comes to home security, the only one that needs to be smart is you.
1. CBS News (2015). How your internet home devices could be hacked. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-your-internet-home-devices-could-be-hacked/
2. Microsoft (2006). The importance of using strong passwords. Retrieved from https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms851492(v=winembedded.11).aspx
Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.
Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:
The American Society for Industrial Security.
The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths.