Are smart homes actually safe?

Author : Maria Torrisi | Business Development Manager | JMartans Automation

01 March 2019

Home smart locks

In 2017, online retail giant, Amazon revealed its plans to introduce a new service, Amazon Key, which uses a compatible smart lock in conjunction with Amazon’s Cloud Cam to allow delivery staff to unlock its customers’ doors and leave packages inside their homes.

This article was originally featured in the March 2019 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy.

Naturally, the announcement raised numerous concerns over safety, security and privacy – and here, Maria Torrisi, Business Development Manager at industrial, building and home automation experts, JMartans Automation, explains how smart home technologies and systems can help make homes safer.

Basic smart home technology has been around for years, but it has only recently caught up with the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). Now, the global market for home automation is expanding at an unprecedented rate and is forecasted to reach a value of more than $53 billion by 2022.

From smart lighting to smart thermostats, home automation can result in considerable savings, as the technology helps to ensure that our homes aren’t overspending on unnecessary energy. Smart home or building automation technology can now be installed to control lighting, blinds and air conditioning for the purposes of comfort and energy saving.

There are different levels of home automation: from the basic and simplest systems, involving the use of remote control of intelligent lights, to more advanced, interactive systems that use artificial intelligence to ‘learn’ patterns and have the ability to self-adjust.

In addition to living greener, smart homes also allow homeowners to monitor activities in real-time, whether they are in the house or on the other side of the planet. This is because home automation systems allow users to connect all their gadgets, including motion detectors and surveillance cameras, to a computer or mobile device via the internet.

Many of the fears surrounding home automation features, like smart locks and Amazon Key, are based on concerns of making our homes vulnerable to security – and privacy – threats. Like anything that is connected to the internet, this is of course a risk – but just how likely is it?

If the right vulnerabilities surface at the right time, then yes – a dedicated hacker might be able to open a home’s smart lock. It would be fair to say, however, that this is a much more difficult task than someone breaking into a house the traditional way, such as with a crowbar.

To mitigate the chances of a cyberattack, homeowners must ensure their smart devices have the latest up-to-date security software and patches installed. Homeowners should also make sure the device has not been tampered with physically, and limit who can have physical access to it.

More importantly, homeowners should consider where they purchase their automation systems from, ideally choosing a reputable and reliable supplier, like JMartans Automation. Purchasing previously owned gadgets and equipment puts homeowners at risk of integrating devices that have been tampered with.

Developments like the Amazon smart key service aim to make our lives easier, giving us reassurance about the safety of our parcels. Similarly, home automation systems can not only make our homes more comfortable and cheaper to sustain, but can also offer homeowners an extra layer of security.

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