Consumers everywhere are being encouraged to brace themselves for a new era of living. Think about how much better a smartphone is than a Nokia 3310. As suggested by its name, the jump from regular home to smart home will be just as revolutionary.
But there is a problem.
Current homes are vulnerable to theft, of course. But Home 2.0, despite all its technological advantages, could be even less secure. And what’s worse, this increased vulnerability comes from the very features that make a smart home so effective and desirable in the first place.
Why are smart homes so vulnerable?
With that ever ubiquitous phrase ‘the Internet of Things’ slowly starting to make sense, household items are linking up to the World Wide Web. A British man recently made headlines for spending 11 hours trying to make a cup of tea with his wi-fi. The kettle was connected to the internet via Amazon Echo. But smart homes offer more than 11-hour brewing sessions.
As software like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Alexa, and Apple’s ever more capable Siri start to take over our homes, more and more appliances will be compatible with smart home software. There are already dozens of smart hubs, light bulbs, switches, outlets, thermostats, vents, fans and cars that will work with most home automation programmes, and in this we have the seeds of the problem.
According to the BBC, if any of these devices or appliances are insecure, connecting them up to a smart home could raise potential security concerns. Cameras are the most striking example. Many smart homes have wifi-enabled cameras in them to check on pets or children, but these cameras can be easily hijacked by hackers and used to check if the home is empty, and therefore more vulnerable to a break-in.
Though appliances like kettles and fans may not seem like they need security, the BBC’s research says if any of these appliances are not secured, the whole network is open to attack. Many smart devices come with factory preset passwords, which users are sometimes slow to change, resulting in increased hacker vulnerability. Once your home network is breached, there is no limit to the amount of private and personal data that could be stolen. With a smart home, you don’t have to have a break-in to be burgled.
Can you have a smart home and be security smart?
Thankfully, home automation does not automatically set you up for a burglary or to have your data stolen. Upgrading your home management may involve new technology operating over a potentially hackable network, but upgrading your home security does not. Never underestimate the power of lock and key.
Tried and tested security systems such as stronger locks, entry systems or shutters will keep your home and its contents safe, no matter how vulnerable your automation network is, but there are even more steps you can take.
Banham, a London-based security firm with more than 90 years of experience in protecting property, have recently recommended home safes as being more important than ever. Just as you would never leave valuables unattended in a hotel, a home safe provides a secure space for anything you would really miss if your house was broken into. Home safes also often lower insurance premiums, and if they are fireproof, they will protect important paper documents. This last advantage is especially useful if you have data you too sensitive to store in the cloud.
Smart homes are the future—the stuff of our sci fi dreams. As long as we adapt to them carefully and safely, they will change the way we live for good. But when you are upgrading your home, make sure you upgrade your security at the same time.