Archive for the ‘Smart Homes’ Category

Service of Too Smart For Your Own Good

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

 

Photo: makeuseof.com

Photo: makeuseof.com

I love helping to introduce new products but because I do, I’ve noticed the risks for those first to buy them. Unless the investment is minor, I wait a cycle until the manufacturer has ironed out kinks.

However it’s for another reason I will stand on the sidelines happy with my dumb house and apartment, as much as is reasonable and as tempting as some of the new fangled appliances sound. I first want to know that there is a solid handle on hacker prevention.

Security camera

Security camera

Leigh Kamping-Carder’s Wall Street Journal article only served to confirm my reserve. She wrote: “Keep Your Smart Home Safe From Hackers–As Internet-connected devices in homes grow more popular, so do the risks of unwanted intruders.” What’s smart in a house? Anything that connects to the Internet such as security cameras and lights to appliances and thermostats.

Why would you want to connect your coffee maker, washer/dryer, fridge, lights or house alarm to the Internet? With your mobile phone as action central in partnership with the right apps, you can set a brewing schedule; control washer/dryer and hot/cold temperature settings; look up recipes and track expiration dates on food. You can also program lighting to turn on and off and have a system notify you if someone has opened a door in your home while you are away, for example.

Samsung smart refrigerator

Samsung smart refrigerator

Coldwell Banker Real Estate conducted a survey, wrote Kamping-Carder, in which over 4,000 respondents in the US said they already own such technology or plan to add it this year. What was unusual–given the presumed smarts and education of wealthy folks who own luxury homes and normally try to protect what they’ve earned or inherited–is that “only recently has security become a priority. While there have been few reported incidents, online-security experts expect smart-home hacking to increase.”

According to Kamping-Carder, “The risks range from relatively harmless (pranksters cranking up the heat) to outright criminal (disabling security cameras to orchestrate a break-in). One of the biggest dangers is that poorly secured smart-home devices could be used as a ‘backdoor’ to gain access to more sensitive information.”

Topnotch insurance companies, such as Chubb Personal Risk Services, recommend security measures. Another company Kamping-Carder mentioned provides the level of security services to monitor home networks that corporations subscribe to, [hopefully with more success, say I], starting at $500/month.

Belkin WeMo smart light switch

Belkin WeMo smart light switch

Kamping-Carder shared tips from security experts such as “changing the password on your device from the default, protecting your WiFi network with a password and ensuring that your wireless router uses some form of encryption. If you have given a password to someone who should no longer have it (like a former dog-walker), it is important to change it immediately.”

She quoted an architect who tested home automation and lighting systems by having them installed in his home and found them satisfactory. “The system cost $135,000 in 2012. He chose the provider partly because of its reputation for tight security, and liked that the installation company could monitor the system remotely and shut it down in the event of fraudulent activity.” [I highlighted the last 21 words.]

Wall Street Journal reader CJ Hall, in a comment about the article addressing the highlighted copy re. the system providing remote monitoring, wrote: “…So can hackers or anyone with access to the installation company [monitor the system].” Hall continued: “Bottom line?  If there is outside access to a system, it can be accessed/monitored/controlled from outside. Do you REALLY want your installer (and anyone with his password) to know when you’re home? Away? Awake? Asleep?  What show you’re watching?  (oops. The cable company already knows the last one.) My personal rule is NO outside connections unless I NEED them more than I need the privacy they sacrifice.”

Do you agree with CJ Hall? Are you tempted or have you already installed smart devices? Are they worth the risks? How do–or would–you protect your privacy?

 

Smart garage door opener Photo: electronichouse.com

Smart garage door opener Photo: electronichouse.com

 

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