Ever had a conversation with your fridge or washing machine? We thought not, but believe it or not; modern appliances do talk to each other. It’s a connected world! Computers, watches, mobile phones and servers all communicate with each other.
We have Apple and Google devices to tell us the news, the weather, and even our favourite recipes. What was once science fiction is now a science fact.
So, what if you could harness this smart technology when it comes to protecting your home?
You’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things. It’s the generic term used to describe appliances and electronic gadgets that communicate with each other via a wireless connection.
The whole concept of IoT is to make your life easier. It’s a super-modern way of streamlining everything so that you are in total control.
Fridges can alert you when you run out of milk and even place online orders for you. Cars can connect with a central diagnostics service and report problems to the manufacturer, and they can even send out software updates to keep your car’s computer systems protected.
When you actually sit and think about it, the possibilities are endless, especially when we talk about home security.
Essentially, there are four types of smart security.
These devices are controlled via an app on your smartphone. They can communicate with you remotely, alerting you to any security breaches. You can even lock your front door from the other side of the world.
Imagine a scenario where one of your kids gets home and forgets their key. One quick call to you at work, and you can remotely let them in without any hassles.
Even when you are out, the doorbell can alert you to someone at your property, and you can communicate with the house caller via your smartphone. It gives the illusion that someone is in. Also, it will record faces so that you can play it back, should you have any issues.
Smart cameras communicate with your tablet or smartphone to alert you to any intruders. And you can also control them remotely via an app.
If a sensor detects the protective security seal is broken, it will alert you remotely. You can also programme your cameras to work in conjunction with the sensors for maximum security.
You may think you have every corner and angle covered, but there are always weak links in any defence system. Your home security could be put at risk by your washing machine or your fridge-freezer.
Who would suspect that your smart blender was the route for hackers to breach your security umbrella?
Often, innovative technology requires clever thieves to thwart your plans. As technology has moved on, so have the criminals, and they know that targeting the weakest link in the chain is the way through the gate.
These appliances are way down the security pecking order, but they are part of the same IoT umbrella and give cybercriminals the most accessible point into your security systems.
A well-documented case in 2015 saw Netflix, PayPal and Spotify fall foul to hackers who harnessed the collective power of hundreds of thousands of minor and insignificant devices to launch their attack.
To put it simply, if your washing machine is connected to the same home hub as your security cameras and locks, you could be vulnerable.
Smart security places you virtually in your home no matter where you are in the world. It can appear to the criminals that you are home and safe, deterring them from gaining entry. You can see who is calling at your front door before you’ve even left the comfort of your sofa.
If you are home alone and don’t like the look of the caller, you don’t have to open the door. You can even turn on lights using your home hub to enhance the illusion that you are home and there are people in the house.
This is especially useful when you are away and want the house to appear occupied. Thieves often watch properties, and if they see a light go on, they will assume you or someone is there and move on.
What could be more convenient than answering the door via your video doorbell? You can even answer the doorbell from the comfort of your sunlounger on a sun kissed beach on the other side of the world. You can also relax knowing that your locks are active and there are no breaches.
Imagine having total control of your home security 24/7 and 365 days of the year. Switch on the lights, close the garage door, pull the curtains, all with a press of a button from anywhere in the world.
Picture the scene: you're at the airport, about to jet off on holiday, when you check your smartphone and realise that the front door is unlocked. With the press of a button, the lock is engaged, and you can travel away without a care.
You would have needed to contact someone with a spare key in the old days and get them to pop around to lock the door.
Smart technology exists as a means of preventing a break-in. It is there to ward off any would-be attackers. Once a crime has been committed, it is irrelevant whether you have smart technology or not.
However, with internet connectivity, you can prevent a crime from happening in the first place.
All this video technology gives you the ability to see the perimeter of your home, keeping you safe before anyone attempts to enter. Some smart doorbells have 25 feet night vision ranges and 1080 resolution. You also get 180-degree wide lenses that pick up any suspicious people before they step foot onto your property.
Someone will always find a way through, especially if you place all your trust in smart security. Remember we talked about the weakest link in the chain as an access route into your system, well IoT devices are by no means perfect, and there are ways and means of breaking the security wall to gain entry.
Worse still, once the criminals have access to your smart devices, they could keep on attacking whenever they choose.
It would be tragic if your entire security system rested on a steady and reliable supply of electricity. If the power went down, how would the technology cope? Is there a backup battery to keep your lock working, and how long does it last?
These are all valid questions that should have you on alert that the IoT is not a magic bullet to solve all your security problems.
We keep everything on our mobile phones these days: photos, contacts, passwords and even the controls to your home security system. If you were to lose your phone or have it stolen, you are vulnerable to a security breach.Even a mugging might be a trigger for a bigger crime.
Imagine being robbed without anyone entering your home. Hackers could tap into your devices and steal the contents of your bank account without breaking a sweat.
Nothing gives away your current location like a smartwatch, phone or fitness device. Hackers can find out where you are without too much trouble and know that when you answer your video doorbell claiming to be in, you are actually miles away.
If someone is smart enough to gain access to your security system, who would know if they turned the tables, using your cameras and doorbells to spy on you. They could track every move you make, and you’d be none the wiser.
Criminals look for and spot generic codes and manufacturers names. Give yours a name that nobody would possibly suspect to make it harder for the thieves.
Change the passwords and usernames for every device because switched on criminals will recognise the generic names and codes of specific products.
In addition, try not to be obvious about the name you give it. Avoid things like “Pete’s fridge” or “Blender 1234.” Try and think of words that have no connection to you, the address or the product.
When people visit your home and ask to connect to your router, how do you know if their devices are secure? Setting up a guest network is easy, and it means they are not compromising your home security.
How many times have we ignored software updates until it is too late? Manufacturers regularly update their software to stay on top of bugs, fixes and issues that arise. Download them whenever you see a software update. It could be the difference between strengthening your security and compromising it.