In our technology obsessed culture, smart homes are all the rage. And why wouldn’t they be? They offer conveniences unheard of just a few years go. Want to lock your doors, close your garage, turn off all the lights AND set the alarm with just the push of a button? Or how about have your home set to do all of that automatically at a certain time of day? Smart homes make it all possible! But with the breaches experienced by big name retailers Target and Home Depot, you have to wonder if smart homes are safe? If a retailer operation employing some of the best technology experts can be taken down by hackers, how easy would it be for the right person to hack into your home?
Smart home hacking is already happening, according to an article published by U.S. News. In the article, Could Your Smart Home Be Hacked?, author Geoff Williams explains situations where hacking is already occurring including incidents where hackers infiltrated a baby monitor and a webcam. In another example, a security company released a public statement about a smart toilet manufacturer, warning a hacker could download an application and cause the toilet to perform any of its function including repeatedly flushing, which would waste water and increase operating costs for the owner.
It’s unnerving to think security vulnerabilities could give the bad guys access to our televisions, toilets, thermostats, refrigerators, lighting systems and other smart home products. Smart home hacking can be as simple as someone hacking into your home and constantly flushing your toilet, or it may cause more serious issues such as someone shutting off your security alarm so he can rob your house. “The real risks are the hackers who gain access to your devices, because if they can get into your thermostat, refrigerator and smart TV and begin listening on your network, then they can begin finding your usernames and passwords, and they can get to your financial information,” says Jerry Irvine, a member of the National Cyber Security Task Force and chief information officer of IT outsourcer Prescient Solutions.
What are some things you can do to minimize the chances your home automation system will be hacked?
First, avoid over-automating. An important principle of home automation should be simplicity. Automation is about people, not technology. It should seek to highlight experiences, not over complicate them. Too much automation IS a bad thing, and offers more opportunities for hackers to find a way in.
U.S. News also offers these other suggestions:
1. Hire only professionals to install your smart home products. Professional installers have the knowledge to ensure your smart home system is protected with a firewall. To that point, change all your passwords after the install so the installer does not have access to your smart devices.
2. Update software. When a device asks you to download an update or a patch, don’t ignore it. The update may protect your equipment from malware or other vulnerabilities.
3. Secure your phone. Smart homes are often controlled by smart phones. Be careful not to lose your phone, but also keep it locked so others can’t access your applications and smart devices.
4. Wait. If you don’t feel confident in the technology, give it some time. As more companies create more smart home products, the expectation is manufacturers will create better software to prevent hacking.
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Photo Credit, CODE_n