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Does smart home technology actually make our homes safer?

Tim Collingwood - 05 July 2018

As time goes on we are seeing more and more smart home technology designed to make our lives easier, and from the outside our homes safer. Devices include security cameras, door locks, doorbells, and door sensors which link to your smart home hub and alert you when they detect something out of the ordinary. From the outside these specific types of smart home devices are aimed at helping us feel safer in (or when we are out of) our homes.

A recent news story about a smart home camera that provided a live feed from somebody’s smart home camera to the wrong user caught my eye. Whilst this appears to be due to an error, it wouldn’t be the first time smart home camera footage has been available to others.

Whilst these devices could be helping us to keep our physical possessions more secure, could it come at a cost.

Are smart home devices making us more vulnerable personally?

Many of the smart home devices that are available will connect to the Internet rather than being restricted within your own home network. This enables providers to offer features such as monitoring your security cameras when you are away or seeing who is at your door when you are at work.

In the future I can see how crimes will change (if it’s not already happening), so that information gathered by the devices will be used to extort crypto currency from you. Alternatively, the information may be used to identify patterns in your personal life to aid physical burglaries and maximise the potential rewards for burglars.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t just about smart home cameras. Other smart home gadgets could be hacked to do things such as lock you out of your property or mine crypto currency which you may not notice until you receive a larger than usual electricity bill.

We are seeing more and more smart home devices being launched into the marketplace focussing on improving the security of your home. However, I believe that these devices are potentially making people more vulnerable and in some cases people would be better off without them.

I really like new technology, and I do really like what some smart home devices can do for. On the other hand, I think there are some smart home gadgets which wouldn’t make many people’s lives better or easier. If like me, you are keen on using smart home technology, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Buy reputable smart home devices that provide regular security updates.
  2. Always change the default settings to ensure that only you have access to the device.
  3. Ensure that security updates are applied to your devices.
  4. Ensure your devices are locked down as much as they can be and that you use secure passwords for interfaces.
  5. Check how accessible the device is from outside of your home network and if necessary add additional rules to your home router and/or firewall.
  6. If you do have smart home cameras don’t place these in positions where you wouldn’t be comfortable if somebody was watching you.