The smart home is the way to the future, but it comes with its own set of risks and downside potential. If you are going to install some of the new connected devices in your home, make sure that at every point along the way you consider safety and security.
The Rise of Smart Home
The smart home is not some sudden inspiration or a newfangled idea. Over several years, this has been discussed and awaited. In reality, over the decades, we have seen a number of smart home devices hit the market, though most have struggled.
The ECHO IV was introduced in 1967 as the first smart device of its kind–supposedly able to handle shopping lists, control the temperature of a home automatically, and switch on and off appliances. It has never been sold commercially but has set an early precedent for the type of technology to be anticipated in the coming years.
Useful electronic devices did not really hit the market until the late 1990s and early 2000s – including items such as programmable thermostats. And it was only in the last two or three years that functional developments hit a reasonable price point.
In 2019, the global smart home equipment market is expected to grow by 26.9 percent year-on-year. Growth will continue with an anticipated annual compound growth rate of 16.9 percent between 2019 and 2023.
Smart home devices were divided into six major categories in the study. Here they are, listed in the market share forecast for 2019:
- Thermostat (2.3 percent)
- Lighting (6.8 percent)
- Others (13.7 percent)
- Home monitoring/security (16.8 percent)
- Smart speakers (17.3 percent)
- Video entertainment (43 percent)
The security challenge
Security is one of the smart home industry’s main concerns and understandably so. The concept of integrating smart home devices in the home sounds great in theory. But if you think that any camera, microphone, or data-aggregating system is another possible entry point for a hacker or cybercriminal, you can easily understand why people are skittish.
No one likes the impression that they are being watched or noticed. We also heard stories of people hacking cameras and spying on homeowners; “inadvertently” smart speakers capturing intimate conversations, and businesses selling their customers ‘ personal data. And even if there are few and far between these cases, they are sufficient to make us think twice.
Today, we feel the pressure of balancing access with confidentiality more than ever before. We want state-of-the-art, best innovation, but we don’t want to open up to undue risk. With so many of our phones and identities closely linked together, when something happens, there is a domino effect in place. Security issues are rarely isolated in today’s interconnected world. A broken process in every aspect of a homeowner’s life could contribute to a complex web of issues.
Tips for your Smart Home Security
If you’re going to join the smart home fray and you’re going to have to almost definitely join in the next five to seven years you’re going to need to make sure you minimize risk across the board. Here are a few tips, suggestions and strategies:
Purchase quality products only
Everything begins and ends with the products you buy. When you put the right products in your house, the risk of being compromised is much smaller than if you invest in the wrong products. It’s a common thumb rule but one that many people are missing.
Nothing beats research in the development of secure smart home devices. Using dedicated review sites in addition to crowdsourcing data via social media and online message boards.
Stick only with safe devices
All computer manufacturers and developers of applications rely on their own set of security features. Others put more emphasis on security than others. And you get just what you’re paying for in most cases. It’s important to familiarize yourself with safety and security practices as a customer and homeowner.
Do not ever Access Smart Home Network on Public WiFi
One of the useful aspects of the connected smart home is the ability to remotely control your home’s different systems, such as the thermostat, lighting, or even your kitchen oven. But if you’re not careful, it could quickly turn into a problem. Nor, under any conditions, you should use a public WiFi link to access your smart home network.
You expose yourself to the risk of a man in the middle attack (where hackers set up fake networks to intercept transmissions) if you connect to your home network via a public link. You might be compromised if you slip into this trap and never realize it. Whenever possible, it’s safer to use a VPN or private connection.
Develop multiple networks
Be knowledgeable about how to build your own networks. Many internet routers on the market today allow you to set up two or three networks at home. Use this to the advantage by separating your devices intentionally.
Try to put all smart devices on your own network, for instance, away from the home computer (which may have confidential information, credit cards, etc.). In fact, set up a network of visitors that you give people when they come. Simple small measures like this make a big difference.
Strengthen your passwords
Believe it or not, the most popular hacks are the product of compromised login details, not complex systems in which hackers go back to a system. Luckily, all you have to do is update your passwords to boost your protection and increasing your vulnerability to an attack.
Strong passwords instead of repetitive words use random strings of characters – like numbers, letters, and symbols. Using a mixture of upper and lower case characters is also helpful, making passcodes much more difficult to crack. Finally changing your passcodes on a regular basis as in every few weeks reduces your risk of hacking.
Be a Smart Home Owner Proactive
The smart home market will only go as far as the industry’s safety side takes it. If technical progress is not sustained, this room will dry up and homeowners migrate in a different direction. As homeowners and consumers, it is up to each of us to hold tech firms accountable.
It starts with using the safety software that we have been provided and putting pressure on these organizations to keep up. We all have to play a part.