If the conversation is about smart homes…
You’ll always get mixed reactions from people.
Some say they’re a must-have to heighten your security.
But others argue that having smart homes puts your safety at risk.
So, which side is telling the truth?
Continue reading to discover:
- Whether smart homes are really safe or not.
- 7 crucial things you should know about smart homes’ safety.
- 3 disturbing crimes you may be exposed to if you have a smart home.
- 3 ways to strengthen your smart home’s security and avoid cyber attacks.
- And a lot more…
Are smart homes safe?
Smart homes are safe.
Because their devices have automated features that increase your house’s security.
For example, my smart door automatically locks after 8 PM.
And I also get notified every time there’s movement near my premises at night.
However, being heavily reliant on the Internet…
Smart homes are exposed to more cybersecurity risks than traditional households.
So, while you may be physically safe inside a smart home…
You’ll still be putting your privacy and data at a higher risk.
Smart homes safety: 7 things you should know
#1: Enhances your physical safety
Here’s the first thing you should know about having a smart home:
Your house will be more secure than ever.
And if you want to know how, here are…
3 ways smart homes enhance your safety:
Automatic door locks
Many people think that digital or automatic locks aren’t safe.
Compared to the traditional models with keyholes.
But in fact, it’s the opposite.
See, automatic door locks allow you to:
- Remotely lock/unlock your door.
- Know who and when someone entered your house.
- Give guests temporary codes that can unlock your door for a limited period.
Moreover, they automatically lock when:
- Nobody’s home.
- They’ve been unlocked for too long.
All the features mentioned above significantly increase your house’s safety.
And only smart locks have them.
Intruders usually target houses with no lights.
Or those with lighting conditions that haven’t changed in days.
Because these scenarios indicate that…
Nobody’s home to turn the lights OFF/ON.
With smart homes, though…
You won’t put your house at risk even if you go away for a week-long vacation.
Smart lights have a feature that allows them to turn ON/OFF randomly. Imitating the usual light patterns you use when you’re home.
So, you can leave your place empty. Without making it a target for robbers or intruders.
Smart surveillance systems
Standard CCTV cameras only let you record events.
But smart homes’ surveillance systems allow you to avoid tragic incidents.
See, smart cameras don’t just record.
They also alert you if there’s an unusual motion detected around your home.
So, you can avoid immediate danger.
Moreover, smart home monitoring companies also alert authorities on your behalf when…
Your alarm goes OFF, and you verify that it wasn’t a false alert.
Or when you don’t answer their call at all.
All of these security features aren’t available on regular household setups.
So, a smart home is worth investing in if you prioritize your physical safety.
Recommended reading: 39 Best Smart Home Devices & Gadgets (Updated)
#2: Voice assistants record your conversation
I explicitly said physical safety in the previous section.
Because smart homes aren’t good at protecting your privacy or digital footprint.
Which are still both associated with how safe you are. Just virtually.
The popular voice assistant, Alexa, stores everything you’ve commanded her before.
And she keeps them stored in a database indefinitely. Unless you delete them yourself.
Now, of course…
Alexa only records what you say when you call her name.
But here’s the problem:
Sometimes, this AI would respond even when you don’t intentionally ask her to.
So, she accidentally records conversations that are supposed to be private. Or even confidential.
Now, you might think:
“But no one would see Alexa’s recorded conversation anyway, right?”
Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the case.
See, thousands of Amazon employees do manual transcriptions of Alexa’s recorded snippets. As a way to improve the AI’s future performance.
However, while the intention behind this action is good…
It’s disturbing for many that strangers can hear everything you’ve said to Alexa before.
So, this privacy concern has reached major news networks like the one below:
Luckily though, after thousands of customers complained about this issue…
Amazon allowed users to remove their voice recordings from the company’s database.
Further reading: Can Alexa Be Hacked? 10 Shocking Security Facts
#3: WiFi outage can cause serious security risks
To give you the highest level of convenience…
Many smart devices store data on the cloud using your Internet connection.
Because reviewing files from several gadgets on your phone is much easier.
Compared to checking your devices’ hard drives individually.
However, there’s 1 flaw with this design:
If there’s a WiFi outage, your devices also can’t save data on their cloud storage.
Maybe this isn’t too big of a deal if we’re just talking about smart lights or plugs.
Because without an Internet connection…
These smart devices will simply act like their regular counterparts.
However, if you have a smart surveillance system installed…
A WiFi outage causes serious security risks.
Because your smart camera won’t be able to:
- Record footage in the cloud.
- Lock your door if you’ve left it open.
- Inform you if there are unusual motions detected on your premises.
Or worse, your home’s security alarm might not even work without an Internet connection.
#4: Prone to unexpected errors
With the rise in popularity of wireless devices…
Gadgets now rely on batteries more than ever.
And from a tech expert’s perspective…
Having devices use a limited power supply instead of your house’s electricity can be risky.
Because if you forget to replace their batteries…
You may have to spend the night unprotected if you have a wireless surveillance camera.
Or your battery-powered smart lights can literally leave you in the dark.
On top of power-related issues…
It’s also not uncommon for smart devices to randomly stop:
- Connecting to the WiFi.
And all these errors put your house’s safety at risk if not addressed immediately.
#5: There are many cybersecurity risks
Here’s the most dangerous thing about having a smart home:
Most of your data is saved in your network.
So, if a hacker gets access to your information in the cloud…
They can figure out almost everything about you, including:
- Where you work.
- Your daily routine.
- The floorplan of your house.
- Who your family members are.
- Future events you’ve scheduled.
- What time you leave the house or sleep.
And with these pieces of information, there are…
3 disturbing crimes hackers can do if you have a smart home:
This is 1 of the most dangerous crimes you could be a victim of.
Because if a hacker uses your identity to commit unlawful acts like fraud…
You’ll be the one in trouble with the law. Until you prove that you were only a victim of identity theft.
Spying and monitoring
Smart cameras are the bread and butter of smart homes’ security systems.
They also pose as the biggest risks if you’re hacked. Because these devices record your daily lives.
Now, being spied on is already creepy as it is.
But here’s the worst part:
Illegally spying is usually just the first step of what most intruders want. Which is to break into your house and steal your highly valued belongings.
Unfortunately, just like you can command your smart devices freely…
Hackers can also do the same once they have access to your network.
For example, they can command your Google Home to turn your lights ON/OFF as a prank.
But if your information falls in the hands of ruthless intruders…
They’ll ask your Google Assistant to unlock your smart door or shut down your security alarm.
Then, proceed with an unthinkable crime.
To make matters worse…
Even if these disturbing events happen due to your smart devices being hacked…
#6: Smart home companies won’t take responsibility
In 2019, news reported that a couple experienced a horrifying day after their Google Nest camera got hacked.
The hacker boosted their thermostat to an extremely hot temperature.
And the couple also reported unwantedly hearing inappropriate music from their hacked camera.
Of course, they asked Google for help and answers.
Because they bought their Nest camera for protection. Not to risk their safety.
But like what most smart home companies would do in this scenario…
Google took zero responsibility for the incident. And blamed the couple for their negligence instead.
The company simply stated:
“These reports are based on customers using compromised passwords.”
And it didn’t provide any financial or legal support to the couple.
This is usually what happens when anyone becomes a victim of cyber attacks.
Hence, I don’t always think a smart home is a good idea for everyone.
#7: You can avoid cyber attacks
The safety risks smart homes have are indeed very disturbing.
But the good news is:
You can easily avoid them.
Just follow these…
3 easy ways to protect your smart home from cyber attacks:
Strengthen your passwords
Passwords are your first defense against hackers trying to access your data.
So, strengthening them is the easiest way to protect your smart home.
When creating passwords, make sure that you use:
- At least 8 characters.
- Information that’s unrelated to you.
- Numbers and symbols (if applicable).
- A combination of upper and lower case letters.
This way, hackers can’t easily guess or decipher them.
You also shouldn’t use the same passwords for all your devices and accounts.
Because this setup just helps hackers breach your data like a walk in the park.
Keep your devices updated
Updates contain extra levels of security for your devices.
So, it’s best to install them as soon as possible.
Avoid buying from unpopular brands
Take this advice with a grain of salt.
But if you want the highest level of cyber security for your smart home…
Stick to popularly known brands like:
- Philips Hue.
- Google Nest.
These smart home companies have already been around for years. And they have millions of customers.
So, thanks to their established reputation…
They can’t risk putting unreliable or unprotected devices on the market.
Bonus: Avoid clicking unfamiliar links
1 click on a malicious link could direct a hacker straight to your confidential data.
So, always stay away from unfamiliar-looking URLs.
And avoid responding to spam texts and emails.
It’s always better to be too cautious now than to regret exposing yourself to cyberattacks later.