The Connected Home – How Secure Are All These Gadgets?

by Des Nnochiri


Connected or smart homes are becoming more commonplace as people use computer networks to control different aspects of their in-house technology. But how secure are these networks?

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A connected home allows occupiers to remotely control and monitor their in-house technology via their smartphones and tablets and its uses can range from the relatively simple or frivolous to more complex, important tasks.


Smart homes use this connectivity to control lighting and heating systems, allowing the user to manipulate the lighting or temperature levels of their property or turn them on and off. For example, if someone with a smart heating system wanted to ensure that they were going to be returning to a warm house after a holiday, they can switch it on and set the temperature when on the final leg of their journey.


Smart security systems allow doors to be opened or locked again when necessary, to admit or prohibit access, even when not at home and allow users to remotely operate and monitor their CCTV network. Smart doorbells allow people to see who’s standing on the doorstep and, through an intercom system, give the impression of someone being at home when the house is empty. There are also smart fire-prevention systems which can monitor carbon monoxide levels and alert the homeowner if thresholds are exceeded.


Connected home entertainment systems allow the user to control music and other media, playing content in some rooms while keeping others peaceful. Holidaying homeowners can remotely control their water sprinklers to ensure their gardens remain lush. And smart refrigerators can monitor their contents, warning when products are going out of date and even suggesting recipes.

Could a Criminal Infiltrate My Connected Home?

Like any network, a smart home is only as secure as its weakest link. So, while it may not seem like a big issue if the app which controls your bedside lamp is hacked, it could provide a back door from which your door locking system can be compromised.


Unfortunately, as the connected home market has grown, the security behind many of the apps used has not been at the top of developers’ list of priorities as they have rushed to gain a foothold in a growing market. Many of these apps have proven simple to break into, requiring only a rudimentary knowledge of hacking.

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While overtly shutting down systems is likely to raise the suspicions of a homeowner, criminals with the right technological knowledge can combine cyber-crime with old-fashioned burglary by accessing a connected home system and carrying out surveillance on their intended target – checking when doors are likely to be unlocked or to gain knowledge of the occupants’ routine.


It’s not just physical crime such as burglary which the hacking of a connected home could enable. Psychological crimes such as stalking and intimidation could be carried out or escalated by acts such as turning on a light or flicking a lock open and closed. The obsessive nature of the people who perpetuate these types of crimes, combined with unfettered access to a home security system, could easily set them on a path to more direct action.

How Can We Make Our Connected Homes More Secure?

There are steps you can take to improve the security of your connected home.


· Change from default passwords – use complex, lengthy passwords.

· Keep the serial numbers of your router secret and never publish it. Change the password on your router as well.

· Know the capabilities of your devices and disable any features you feel could be a threat and/or you are unlikely to use.

· Install trustworthy security software.

· Ensure all apps and software are updated with the latest security patches.


Remember, if a person is set on the idea of burglarizing your property, they will likely find a way of doing it, whether via a complex hack of your connected devices or taking advantage of a window left ajar. Security devices such as smart doorbells and CCTV networks are more likely to deter crime than to facilitate it, and your average home invader isn’t likely to be sophisticated enough to see them as an opportunity and will instead seek a softer target elsewhere.


As smart technology becomes ever more ubiquitous, the developers who succeed will be the ones who take their security responsibilities seriously. Those who don’t will likely see their products fail to gain a market hold as more secure products attract ever more savvy consumers.



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