Are Smart Homes Safer Homes? How to Make Your House Unhackable
It’s now quite easy to create and live in a smart home. You can progressively install a vast assortment of products, then link many of them together for even better results.
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Maybe you’re intrigued by smart home technology and would love to use such devices to make your home safer. But does the technology deliver on its promise?
How Smart Technology Makes Your Home Safer
The strategic use of smart home technology can make your abode a safer place to live. One of the most significant ways this happens is through enhanced visibility.
Consider the way many banks have apps that give you real-time notifications of every transaction on your debit card, allowing you to take immediate action against unauthorized use. Smart home technology and apps can do the same thing. A smart security camera can alert you to any visitors and even allow talking to them through the speaker, regardless of whether you’re home.
Products like Apple Home Key let you into your home’s front door with an app. You can even give virtual keys to loved ones. Then, there’s no risk of losing a physical key or having it stolen. You also eliminate the security risk of hiding a key outside your home and hoping no one finds it.
Smart home products also help loved ones and caregivers connect to older adults who still live independently. Alexa Together is one such option. An Amazon blog post noted 65% of Alexa Together customers use the service to communicate across cities. People can also buy products that detect falls or medical emergencies in the home.
Improved Security Involves Thinking Creatively
When thinking about features of smart home products from a security standpoint, begin by learning about the various products in this category and how they could enhance safety. Maybe your job requires being away from home for prolonged periods, but you want to make people believe you’re there. In that case, you can program products like smart lights or connected music systems to activate at specific times.
If you worry about your kids leaving home without permission, use geofencing features to receive alerts when that happens. Additionally, set up indoor and outdoor cameras or complete home security systems to monitor what happens when you hire a babysitter to stay home with a sick child. These are just a few ways to make your smart home safe for kids.
Various smart home products address hidden risks and warn you of them. If a family member has asthma, you might buy a smart air purifier to manage their condition. Similarly, smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors provide warnings so you can get out of the house before a dangerous situation becomes catastrophic.
You may store valuable items such as e-bikes in your home. That’s a great way to make theft less likely, but you can protect them even more by attaching smart tags to products you care about most. An app can then tell you if someone moves or uses the item without permission.
Leak sensors and water-shutoff products will also become more common, according to a 2022 report from Omdia, a technology research firm. That makes sense since most people treat their homes as assets. Such smart devices can protect these large investments from severe and costly damage.
Besides considering how you want to secure your home with smart technology, learn how to link the products you purchase. You then have the best chance of getting the most out of what you buy and simplifying new product installation.
Smart Homes Are Not Inherently Safer
Smart homes are not automatically less hackable. Online criminals love breaking into internet-connected devices, so if your home includes many of them and you haven’t taken the proper steps to secure them, a smart home could be less safe than one without the latest high-tech devices.
Contributing authors for The Conversation also published an explanation of how smart home technology elevates domestic abuse threats. That usually happens because intimate partners often share app access. If the relationship breaks down, an ex-partner could continue operating things in a home, despite no longer living there. The effects of that form of control span from annoyance to ongoing terror, depending on the extent.
Data-sharing risks also become more prevalent as smart home technology adoption rates increase. As a 2022 Deloitte study found, households in the United States have an average of 22 smart devices. As people buy more smart home devices, they also increase the potential targets for hackers. Additionally, 52% of people viewed their smart home devices as security vulnerabilities.
These takeaways are strong reminders not to breathe a sigh of relief merely because you’ve purchased an advanced device for your home. Indeed, it may keep you safer, but it’s also necessary to take proactive steps to safeguard your home against hackers.
How to Secure Your Smart Home Devices
What’s the best way to lock down your smart home devices?
- Secure your router and Wi-Fi passwords. Control of a router gives a cybercriminal a chance to launch various attacks. Similarly, anyone from a neighbor to someone sitting in a car across the street could connect to an unsecured home Wi-Fi network or one with an easy-to-guess password.
- Update your passwords regularly. For example, you might give a housesitter login details for various smart home devices when you’re on vacation. However, remember to change them once you get home and do the same when going through a relationship breakup involving a partner moving out.
- Regularly install software updates. These devices do get hacked, but company security teams fix the vulnerabilities once they learn about them.
- Carefully read all terms and conditions. You want to give particular focus to how a smart home company uses your data.
The importance of reading terms and conditions came into the spotlight when, as published in the MIT Technology Review, MIT researchers investigated how content captured by Roomba smart vacuum cleaners ended up on social media.
The pictures featured private moments of people from their homes, including a woman using the toilet. The organization responded that the data came from people who signed written agreements to send video streams and other content to the company.
Smart Home Safety: Possible, But Not Guaranteed
Living in a smart home doesn’t always elevate your safety, but it can. That’s much more likely to happen when you recognize and proactively address the hacking-related risks.
Besides applying the aforementioned suggestions, educate yourself about new smart home risks as they emerge. As the smart home market changes, so do the potential threats. That’s not to say you must avoid smart home technologies but a reminder to take care when using them.
Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.
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