Although smart home technology strives to keep homeowners safe, they also come with a whole lot of security concerns and pitfalls. One minute you are enjoying the safety of your automated home, and the next minute you are feeling insecure owing to unauthorized access.
Smart home automation establishes an ecosystem of connected devices that provide users with complete control over their surroundings. However, like any other thing connected to the internet, every smart device is an access point for unauthorized external actors.
Home automation tends to use devices that can link up to the internet and contain small computers that ensure that they can be remotely controlled. These devices might be as small as a coffee maker or as large as your entire heating system.
They also leverage internet-connected devices which can independently turn on your lights, open doors, or even alert you when you’re running low on water. However, what makes them different from your traditional TV remote is that they use internet protocol to link up, and they’re all connected via a hub.
These devices can gather and store information on your usage, habits, and preferences — either on the device or on the network. Also note that all this data makes your smart home a potential privacy risk, and every device you add to the network entails a new privacy issue.
Currently, according to reports, a good number of smart home devices lack adequate security measures. And even if protections are available, people most often are not well informed or they skip these protocols to enjoy a more streamlined experience.
Existing Security Concerns With Home Automation
Note that security breach in smart home technology happens in various ways and the level of damage varies according to what’s at stake. They include;
Although installing a surveillance camera at home can ensure you see everything that goes on on your premises even in your absence, have in mind that the authenticity of such data can be doubtful because it can be altered by professional hackers.
Most often, data transmitted via smart home devices are unencrypted and this entails that an intruder can break into your home and get away with no evidence on your camera. They just have to manipulate the data by replacing the original data with an altered version.
One good way to prevent data manipulation is to only use an advanced security system with File Integrity Monitoring (FIM). The system automatically generates backup for footage and issues instant alerts when a data manipulation is detected.
Hackers are becoming more creative with their techniques by the day. Instead of just gaining unauthorized access to your smart home security device, they target the database of your service providers. Note that such cumbersome data breaches can expose the data of users of certain smart devices.
If you are one of those unfortunate users, have it in mind that a digital thief can apply for credit cards using your name, take out a mortgage using your name, or even impersonate you and turn your life inside out.
You can reduce the risk of a data breach by protecting your personal information and paying close attention to your billing cycle. Since a good number of smart home devices are controlled on mobile phones, you must activate the security features on your mobile phone to prevent unauthorized access.
Most often, automated home devices are connected to a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking system that automatically detects the location of your home. Note that the location signals gathered by the GPS are meant to be private but since they are saved in the cloud, they can easily be accessed by hackers. Truth be told, anyone who goes the extra mile to find your home location isn’t doing it for a good cause.
Have it in mind that hackers can track your location once they gain unauthorized access to your GPS. Owing to that, the ideal way to discourage anyone from accessing your location is to turn off your GPS. Also, consider leveraging a private and well-protected network for your smart home devices.
According to reports, a good number of smart-home hubs that connect all the smart devices on your network are protected with a weak password. Note that such a security blunder gives room to clever hackers to easily penetrate and gain access to the hub and fiddle with it and other smart devices in your home.
For instance, they could get you frightened by flicking the lights on and off or changing TV channels. To limit such virtual break-ins, make sure you use not-so-easy-to-hack, complex passwords and leverage two levels of authentication for all your smart devices.
Spying and Monitoring
Without doubts, video and audio recording remain a very vital function of smart home devices. While cameras help you to keep an eye on your premises by capturing footage, speakers can help you record discussions and events that play out in and around your home. In the same way, audio devices like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa eavesdrop on you, recording everything being said.
Don’t forget that hackers can gain unauthorized access to your smart home cameras and audio devices, and manipulate the system to give their commands. This way, they can monitor everything that you do or say and may use it against you.
To avert intruders from spying and monitoring you via your smart home devices, you should be mindful of how you use them. Also, consider deleting your conversations so that they are not stolen. Also, remember to turn off your Wi-Fi when you aren’t at home or when you need absolute privacy.
Appliance or Property Damage
Hacking smart devices that manage vital functions of the home, like cooling and heating, can be quite dangerous and damaging. Have it in mind that a hacker with access to your thermostat could play with it, force the HVAC system into overdrive, or even cause it to malfunction.
They can also set off the oven or cooking gas and cause a house fire while you are away from home. If you intend to use these devices, go for ones that allow you to lock the settings and make it more challenging for others to alter them.
A good number of smart devices allow homeowners to remotely turn on and off lights or open and close garage doors by integrating third-party mobile apps or smart-home platforms. Note that apps without secure authorization may allow people other than you to impersonate you and control your devices as long as they can get their hands on your phone.
Also, note that some apps group permissions to carry out operations on the device rather than asking for separate permissions for each function. According to experts, this could give a hacker the ability to, maybe; remotely turn on your lights. If you are not so sure, consider using only authorized apps and platforms to control your smart devices.
Although the possibility of remote device tampering can be quite scary, it is nothing compared to the risk of a physical break-in posed by security devices like smart door locks and surveillance cameras. Have it in mind that unidentified security loopholes in any of these devices could give hackers the permission to disable cameras or unlock doors to let in accomplices, or even lock you out of your own home.
Owing to that, also installing security door braces and a security alarm that isn’t smart can help safeguard your home against intrusions. Smart home devices are currently vulnerable due to their design and how people use them.
However, even with the security risks, smart home technology has genuinely bolstered living at home. But like with most things in life, the best practice is for you to carry out your due diligence and ensure you protect your home against intruders by leveraging some of the precautions noted above.