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How Safe Is Your Smart Home?

Tired of fumbling for your keys at the front door? Fed up with reaching in the dark for that light switch only to stub your toe on one of your kid’s toys?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could open your door from your phone as you exited your car? Or how about a light that goes on as you enter a room in your home? That is the sexy promise of smart homes – the utter convenience.

We live in a connected world, and more and more of our devices and parts of our lives are becoming intertwined. But with convenience comes vulnerability. We all know that. We hear about the risks to our privacy and of hacking on almost on a daily basis. So it bears asking – how safe is your smart home?

How much more connected can we become? Let’s take a moment to reflect on The Internet of Things or IoT. What is the IoT?


The Internet of Things and Your Smart Home

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which means these objects can collect and exchange data.

In other words, the Internet of Things means more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems. It used to sound like science fiction but now it’s part of our reality.

The fact of the matter is that manufacturers market the convenience of connected grills, coffee makers, refrigerators and door locks. But as most security experts agree, these same manufacturers are not taking enough precautions to protect our security and privacy.

Take the well-publicized cases of hackers breaching Internet-connected camera systems, smart TVs and even baby monitors. These cases underline the importance of security where we are most vulnerable.


Any device that is connected to the Internet is at risk of being hijacked. Moreover, the risks that unauthorized access create intensify as we adopt more and more devices linked to our physical safety, such as our cars, medical care, and homes.
Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission


What Security Experts are Saying about Smart Homes

There is a widespread collection of personal information with or without consumers’ knowledge. And because connected devices are relatively new, security has not been at the forefront of the development process. In other words, there are few security features built into many of them or the apps that power them.

Surprisingly, there are few products even in the marketplace that lock down your smart home. What do security experts think about that? There’s a real concern about the misuse of personal information and actual stealing of the data.


Everyday Browsing Still Poses Great Risks to your Smart Home

Let’s say you visit a website that has malicious code embedded in it. There’s a level of sophistication in malware these days that does not require you to be active in the process. In other words, there’s no need to click anything for the malware code to run, and after it does it can deliver a virus that can co-opt your computer. When that happens, your device can be put to work as part of a botnet.

What is a botnet? A botnet is a giant network of computers linked together to break codes or passwords. These botnets can initiate denial-of-service attacks that can take down entire sites.

So, this brings us back to smart TVs or refrigerators that are connected. There is a risk that they can become part of botnets as well. The fact that they can reach a website means they can be used.


The more convenient or smart something is, the less secure it is. What are we giving up just for me to be lazy on my couch?
Security Expert Daniel Buentello


Testing the Security of Smart Homes

The security provider Symantec, analyzed 50 smart home devices available today to get a better understanding of how they measure up when it comes to security.

The conclusions were shocking to anyone who studies online security:

“None of the devices used mutual authentication or enforced strong passwords. Even worse, some hindered the user from setting up a strong password on the cloud interface by restricting the authentication to a simple four-number PIN code.”


Conclusion

If you are creating a smart home for yourself, or you’re building a network of connected devices in your home, you need to keep security top of mind.

Unfortunately, many companies have failed to safeguard customer data over the last year and until there is an industry-led initiative to prioritize security, it seems that it will have to be consumer driven.

In other words, consumers are going to have to do the talking with their wallets, only spending their good money on companies that demonstrate a commitment to protecting their privacy and their overall security.

Think twice about what you connect to your network.

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