The purpose of smart homes is to provide comfort, reliability, automation, and security.
But much like anything else in life, there are also some risks associated with smart homes and smart home security devices.
When talking about smart home security, we have to mention the Internet of Things (IoT) because a smart home often involves the use of different devices, sensors, or cameras.
Smart home devices can be susceptible to hackers, and even large corporations can use your personal data in questionable ways. Because of this, smart homes are associated with various security risks, privacy concerns, reliability issues, product life span expectancy, and overall support that can compromise your smart home security.
Understanding the security risks and concerns associated with smart homes is a good step forward in ensuring your home really is secure.
One of the major problems with smart home devices and smart home security systems is that they can capture and collect information. To work effectively and provide you with the necessary comfort and automation, smart devices need to collect specific types of data. However, what data is collected and how it is used can be difficult to decipher.
In some cases, it may be nearly impossible to find what data is collected and how it is used due to the way Terms of Service are often written. They are difficult to read and wade through, often spanning over several dozens of pages. Even tech-savvy people can have difficulty understanding them.
Many users have voiced their concerns about how their personal data is being used, whether or not their smart devices are listening and spying on them and if their information is being sold to big corporations and advertisers.
Although most smart home speakers like those sold by Google and Amazon are expected to listen for their respective activation phrases, they could record conversations that should have remained private.
What’s more, even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can collect and sell your data.
Wireless Network Security Risks
Wireless networks can be hacked if not properly secured. It can be very dangerous if a criminal gets access to your WiFi router and network.
A hacker may be able to monitor the data going to and from your router, find and hack other computers, smartphones, and smart devices using the same network and compromise them if they do not have good levels of protection.
The hacker might be able to get a general feel for when you are home and figure out your daily schedule, what you are doing, where you are located in your home, and gain access to personal information.
Many smart home devices can store different types of personal and sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, birth information, location data, and more. A hacker can gain access to all that data and use it if they gain access to your network.
Risk of Hacking
Home security systems and equipment can be hacked. Although manufacturers are always trying to offer the best security possible, mistakes can and do happen, and smart devices that do not have adequate security are sometimes released for sale.
We have seen it over the years with different instances of video doorbells, baby monitors, security cameras, and other security systems getting hacked and compromising the privacy and safety of their owners.
There is a lot of competition in the market, and companies are pressured to release newer and better smart devices offering more features and capabilities. Because of this, it is not uncommon for equipment with various bugs and security flaws to be released too early. Usually, flaws and bugs are addressed when discovered, but they are still a security weakness, nonetheless.
Furthermore, even a smart home device that has adequate security can be compromised due to improper setup or other security oversights on the owner’s part.
It is also worth mentioning that hackers attack not just individuals but large companies as well. Often big companies are the main target of hackers because instead of gaining access to just one person’s data, they may be able to access the data of all their customers.
Integration and Compatibility Problems
One of the problems with smart homes is that there are a lot of different companies offering different types of equipment, and there is no one leader that covers all aspects of a smart home.
Many people end up owning smart home equipment offered by different brands, and cross-compatibility and integration problems are fairly common even among the most popular brands.
Although they are all called smart devices, when it comes to certain features and customizability, they can end up being very limited as to what they can offer.
Integration and compatibility are important aspects of home security because this means the devices work well together and are reliable in what they can do and offer.
On top of that, owners sometimes end up having to use multiple apps to control the different smart devices, which can be frustrating and problematic.
All that leads to reliability concerns as devices that are not cross-compatible fully may end up interfering with each other, and even software updates can sometimes break more things than they fix.
Wireless smart home devices and systems are becoming increasingly more popular among consumers because they are easier to set up and install. In fact, many are entirely DIY.
But wireless smart home systems and devices have one weakness—they depend on batteries to remain powered and function.
This brings about several problems that owners may run into.
Smart home security devices can run out of battery which can compromise your home security. Smart home services are designed to inform the user if they are running low on battery power, but those alerts can sometimes be overlooked. Batteries in outdoor equipment can be affected by cold weather and temperature drops and lose charge faster than expected, too.
Although smart home systems and devices are usually built around the idea that they may run out of power eventually, some may not be designed properly. For example, a poorly designed smart lock can lock you outside if it runs out of power until the battery is changed.
Smart homes often rely on being constantly connected to the internet to work optimally. If the internet goes out, this can lead to a lot of problems and potential security risks.
Criminals can use this weakness.
Burglars may cut the internet cables or completely turn off the electrical power supply to your home if they get access to your electrical box in an effort to shut down or prevent your home security devices and system from working.
If the internet or electricity in your home goes out, this can leave your home vulnerable to burglars if your smart home security system and equipment rely only on the internet connection to work and send out notifications.
Another case in point is the fact that many of today’s smart home devices have to be connected to the cloud.
Cloud reliance is also linked with privacy issues, hacking concerns, internet reliance, and integration issues.
There are still good options out there that can be set up to work locally and not rely on a cloud server.
However, finding devices that do not require a cloud connection can be very difficult and requires a lot of research and looking around, especially if you are looking for devices from different manufacturers that you also want to work well with each other.
Lack of Additional Security Layers
One of the little less obvious smart home security risks is that a smart home can give homeowners and renters a false sense of security. Some people will not add additional security layers after installing a smart home security system or equipment.
There are many different ways you can make your home safer and less appealing to burglars, and a smart home security system or equipment is only a part of the equation.
A smart home security system is a good deterrent, but it is also a reactive security measure because it will sound an alarm only after the system has been triggered. In other words, it does not stop the burglar from entering your home.
If a home is particularly appealing to a burglar, they may try to break in and steal as much as they can and leave before the police show up.
Product Life Span Concerns
Older wired home security systems were often a set-and-forget type of system. Owners did not have to worry that they may have to upgrade their home security system after a few years or that their company might drop its support for it.
Things are a little different with today’s smart home devices and smart home security equipment.
However, the problem is that eventually, companies will stop updating the software or offering security support to some of their older smart home devices.
Some companies will try to sell the newer versions of their smart devices by dropping the support of older devices. While others may stop providing support to their devices simply because the company went out of business or have been taken over by another company or due to changes in their software.
And without the support or regular updates intended to fix any possible new security vulnerabilities, these smart devices can stop functioning optimally or turn into a significant security risk.
Conclusion: Smart Home Security Risks
What dangers lurk in our smart home? It can be a question many of us have wondered about. In fact, recent stories have been popping up about some safety concerns across the spectrum from smart home cameras to smart utility meters.
Now that you have read about the top smart home security risks, you are one step closer to protecting your family or business from them. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate these risks, you can certainly take steps to reduce them.
As a homeowner, be sure to take a moment and review your current smart home security system. Be sure to ask yourself if you can answer all of the questions above – if not, be sure to have a professional come by and give you a check-up.
If you are still concerned that having a smart home security system could open up your home and personal life to unprecedented risk, you can breathe easy. As with most things, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Be careful about compromises to your privacy, but let’s face it, every time you use the internet you’re putting yourself at potential risk.
If you have any tips of your own on how to better protect your home or business, please feel free to email us. I would love to hear from other professionals and hear what steps they’ve taken to protect their homes and businesses. Thanks for reading and happy smart home security!