Smart Homes and Hacking: Innovation has Outpaced Security

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The home technology industry is on the rave with the concept of smart homes – the idea that you can control the settings of your home from a single smartphone. Far beyond niche devices such as NEST home security, tech giants such as Google and Apple are now manufacturing technology that can control multiple functions of a home (think lights, home appliances, thermostat) from a single, handheld device. For consumers, this means efficient home control and streamlined access.

However, the flip side of this infrastructure that is coming to light is its vulnerability – the flaws in security mean that a hacker can potentially access the controls and data associated with it. Add to this the various appliances and connected devices, and you have a scenario which allows a hacker to gain information about your entire home.

Most homeowners will be concerned with an attack on the manipulation of household appliances that simply scare them; most amateur hackers fall into this category, getting a sort of ‘high’ from this feat. However, an article from the Kaspersky Lab suggests that intentions by criminal hackers could do far substantial damage:

“However, most criminal hackers are after money. Therefore, the most likely attacks would be those that use weaknesses in these systems as access points to eventually obtain valuable data stored on the home network. It’s also possible that the insecure devices could be compromised in order to perform surveillance on a potential, physical robbery target. A knowledgeable attacker could even unlock doors, making such a robbery even easier. AV-Test notes that the potential for ransomware spreading among the various connected devices could be tempting to an attacker as well. It would be hard not to pay the ransom if your entire house just stopped working.”

Despite these fears, it is hard to bypass infrastructure that allows such an efficient way to manage the various home systems from the comfort of a single smartphone. Technology should not be avoided, as long as a method of security is in place to protect the infrastructure. The key for industry giants in the future is to improve the encryption and security of data – installing a ‘smart home’ should really become a smart choice, and not a foolish one.

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