Is Smart Home Technology A Security Risk?
We’ve all noticed the recent boom in smart home technology. It started with things such as being able to control your lighting with your phone and quickly turned into a way to completely transform your household. Smart technology is very enticing, considering it can entail freezers telling you that you need more food or your blinds opening with the morning sun. Apps can even tell you the nearest place to source cash.
Yet does smart tech pose a security threat? All smart tech solutions work via being paired up to your devices and internet connection, but how safe is this process?
What are the Risks?
In recent years, there have been some devastating directed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. One of the largest attacks in 2016 showed that lots of smart devices used to overload servers were regular household items such as cameras, TV’s, toasters, refrigerators. These were in addition to the usual phones, computers and laptops.
If hackers can get such easy access to these devices, it makes us wonder how secure the technology is. Most manufacturers are concerned with how fast they can make their device, increasing its memory, versatility and speed. Yet few seriously consider security.
There are a handful of daunting risks that exist as a result of using smart devices. One is that your data can be stored and sold by third party websites without your knowledge. Another is that hackers can quite easily gain access to devices in your home. They can do this in numerous ways. Some smart home technology comes with default passwords that hackers are well aware of. If you don’t alter passwords as soon as you’ve set your device up, there’s a high chance that a hacker could take advantage of it.
Lack of Inbuilt Security
The main issue is a result of manufacturing. Smart home technology companies are focused on speed, ease of use, functionality and all the perks that come with their products. However, throughout the manufacturing process security seems to take a back seat.
While smart tech company owners have stated they’ll be taking security more seriously, is this good enough? Most smart home solutions are built to last for a decade or more, what damage could be done over such a vast time period? Surely smart home technology should have better built-in security measures?
The sad truth is that not all smart tech companies are willing to make changes and enforce better security. Perhaps they feel it’s the duty of the internet provider or customer? However, surely there are areas that manufacturers can improve on.
For example, they could cease setting one universal password and username for each device sent out, relying on the consumer to change their password as soon as they set up the product. If manuals state to change admins and passwords as a security measure, that’s fine, but setting a default that’s the same for every issue of the product is irresponsible, especially as not all consumers will know to alter their details.
So if the security of your smart home tech is in your hands, what can you do to prevent anything from going wrong? First, if given a chance, you should change admin usernames and passwords as soon as you set up your device. Second, by running your devices and internet connection through a Virtual Private Network, you become virtually invisible to hackers snooping on networks.
Finally, if possible, try to find out whether a third-party company utilizes any data collected from your smart home devices. If so, you may be able to opt-out of having your data tracked.
By looking at recent DDoS attacks and hacker activity, we find that smart home technology can be a security risk. Hackers can use your smart devices to overload servers, capture and sell data, and even control the products remotely if they wish to.
We’ve seen that not all smart home tech companies are interested in fixing up the security on their products. For those that are, is it too late? Since most professional smart products are set to last for at least a decade, more action is certainly needed on the side of manufacturing to deliver better security for smart devices and users.
At present, it seems that most risk prevention is in the hands of the customer. By safeguarding your connection, changing your login details and opting out of data tracking, you’ll give yourself the best chance of extinguishing common risks with smart home technology.
Do you have any concerns about smart technology? How much do you have in your home? Do you plan to take any action? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.