Guest blog post by Bhavin Shah
From the moment you walk out of the front door, it gets locked behind you even if you just missed out on locking it personally. From that moment, robotic intelligence takes charge and keeps you informed about whatever is going on in your home when you are away – Is your pooch scratching at the newly bought sofa? Is your kid doing his homework or whiling away the evening with his favourite cartoon? Did you forget to switch off the TV before you left for work? Has your garden been sprinkled adequately?
Such....and lot of other things.
Magical! Isn’t it?
The common notion about smart homes
The smart appliance market would witness a global investment of 15.2 billion USD by the end of 2015.
This figure, in itself, sums up the nature of popularity that smart homes are enjoying. Experts and analysts are of the opinion that this figure would radically grow in the next few years and the next generation would be living in a smart wireless era.
Who would not be intrigued by the idea of having everything done at the tapping of a button on one’s mobile phone?
The celebrated hits
When we talk about smart home, the first thought that comes to our mind is ‘relief from the constant noisy thought that says – What’s happening back at home?’ Remote automation facility also serves the purpose of having your house chores done, when you are not personally present to do them!
A smart home, laden with smart appliance would typically serve 3 purposes of the owner:
- Keeping the owner informed about stuff when he is not home.
- Performing tasks that have been remotely ordered to be done.
- Performing tasks on the basis of voice commands when the owner is home
Switching the washing machine on or off, switching off lights, pulling down shades during the day, switching on the dishwasher, setting the television to a ‘kids’ channel’ when your 4-year old kid is coming back home, warming up food....the list is seemingly endless!
This whole idea is fascinating, convenient and off late, has become an affordable reality too!
But hold on.
Does this coin not have the other side or we are staying blind to the other side of the coin?
Are they really hits?
While with a smart home, you may stay assured that your house does not need your personal presence anymore to function at least till the extent of basic chores, it actually exposes you to another daunting question – If you are able to control your home remotely, would someone else not be able to do the same?
You would say, ‘We have automated security solutions, integrated with surveillance cameras and all! Moreover, I control my home, because I have access to control it. How can someone else?’
Ever heard about your emails and accounts being hacked? It was just you who had access to them as well, isn’t it?
The world of hackers is eying an elaborately fantastic time in the near future. With smart homes being implemented in every modern city with an affluent lifestyle, the possibility of breaking into houses and manipulating owners become al the simpler! More frighteningly, a remote crime with no physical trace!
I found an example, worth sharing in an article at Forbes. Click here for the complete article.
When we talk about smart homes, we conveniently forget that we are exposing our home and every deliberate detail in it to the internet. That would mean, my home along with every inanimate object and every breathing being, is subject to the knowledge of millions of people.
When I know where the safe is, and what the code to open it is, there would be thousands of hackers who are constantly on the pry to possess as much knowledge about it as myself!
With smart security systems in place, no one would have to take the pains to break into my house! They can just decode the lock code and enter my home without the slightest difficulty.
While the dirt of burglary would be minimised to a huge extent, thanks to the complicated and robust interconnectivity within a smart home, any equipped hacker would now be able to put every alert to silence, remotely switch off every surveillance camera, turn off lights remotely to make visibility difficult, track down my valuables and leave house without the slightest doubt occurring to my neighbours!
Considering the fact that smart homes would witness the affluent class at its first buyer segment, security of life would be a graver problem than material security.
If I have an 8 year old returning to an empty home at 4 in the afternoon, he is still coming back to a human-less house, susceptible to the clutches of hackers, immaterial of how tight-looped the implemented security solution is.
Any ambitious hacker could easily bucket in every singular detail about my son’s commute to the house and from it. This leaves me ridiculously open to an easy kidnapping pursuit.
Security is the foremost concern about smart homes, even amongst its creators. Although the market is flooding with robust security solutions, we must not forget that every security system has some loop or the other.
As such, the idea of exposing one’s home to cloud servers and machines talking to each other seems to be a gamble with privacy and security.
The most applauded solutions
Just like in case of every other virtual ownership, the best hack, not to have a smart home hacked, is a unique password – as unique and as difficult as can be.
Lock your router down, use quality devices and remember to update them. Go with a cloud-service provider who swears by their cloud security facilities. ThingWorx and Freescale are awesome examples.
Are they fool-proof?
No! Absolutely not! Yet, these small step help you stay away from harm in your best limits.
Let’s understand one thing –
The more powerful technology grows, the nastier would be the hacks to compromise it. Simultaneously, the more robust would be the security solutions in place.
It is definitely not in our power to contain hacking completely. Not using a technology, when uber is being defined by it, is also nothing less than plain folly. But staying a step ahead in safety is completely in our power.
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