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Home Security and the Internet of Things

March 10, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Alec Feldman, owner of Western Safe & Vault Co

The future, it seems, is one of connectivity — not only between people from across the globe thanks to things like social media and wireless technology, but between devices too. It’s no longer just our phones or computers that access the internet, but our light bulbs, coffee-machines, refrigerators, and microwaves. As a community, we’re welcoming the “Internet of Things” into our lives — encouraging a world of constant connection to each other, and the internet. As a result, estimates suggest that by 2020, the sum of IoT (Internet of Things) devices will reach 25 to 30 billion.

It’s no wonder that 2015 made the Internet of Things into a trending topic that has continues to generate buzz today. The idea that the internet will be linking so many of our home devices together is astounding. Unfortunately, there is some danger amidst the innovation and convenience that the Internet of Things may afford. In fact, current information suggests that the primary reason burglars target homes is due to easy accessibility — and the internet of things could make stealing information easier than ever.

While the IoT has delivered a range of amazing technology into our lives, it’s also introducing plenty of valid concerns regarding our privacy, and home security.

What Is The “Internet of Things”?

Although it’s only recently emerged as a trending topic, the Internet of Things isn’t new. Tech companies have been discussing the idea of an interconnected network of devices for some time, and the first toaster with an internet connection was unveiled in 1989. However, today, the IoT concept seems to have surged to the forefront of everyone’s minds; outlining a new idea of the future.

IoT is about connecting devices through the internet, letting them talk to applications, each other, and us in new and exciting way. For example, imagine a smart fridge that tells you you’re out of milk via text. Such a futuristic concept exists today, and new ideas are emerging all of the time. The problem is that although the idea of networking appliances and other objects is not new, security doesn’t feature properly in product design. In fact, IoT devices sell with unpatched, old operating systems and software riddled with holes for potential hackers. At the same time, purchasers frequently forget to change the default passwords on their devices, to enhance internal security.

Security experts have warned companies and consumers alike of the risk associated with large numbers of unsecured devices connecting to the internet ever since the concept emerged. Unfortunately, while creative entrepreneurs are building smart gadgets to make our homes more exciting and comfortable, these devices are far from perfect. Particularly when bought from different companies, these devices speak different languages, and often risk being overheard, meaning that they have the power to unlock your door from the inside for tech savvy criminals.

What the IoT Means for Home Security

The problem with the Internet of Things is that ensuring secure code in every device may be close to impossible. Consumers today want life-enhancing and innovative products now, leaving product designers with little time, and a lot of pressure to design a cutting-edge item ahead of the competition. This rush often results in poorly constructed software released without proper security consideration. Everything from coffee machines, to smart TVs, thermostats, and printers overlook basic security features, meaning that homeowners need to think carefully about how they protect what’s important to them.

The issue of security surrounding the IoT wave has caught the attention of home security companies, who are searching for ways to protect people with “smart” homes and devices. However, in the meantime, IoT impacts home security in a number of ways, including the introduction of “hackable equipment”. Internet-only home technologies are often easier to hack than other, more “traditional” equipment, such as safes. Security requires layers of protection including protocols and firewalls, yet many IoT systems lack any firewalls at all, relying on a simple password authentication to function.

According to Norton Security, cybercrime affects 594 million people across the world. If we don’t find a way to improve home security in connection with the Internet of Things, then that number will grow even larger over the following years. Your smart-lock for your home door can be hacked through a hole in the security system, allowing burglars their own key into your family property. A compromised baby monitor in your bedroom, or webcam on your PC allows hackers their own insight into your home, whenever they want. Even a poorly secured router can shake the entire foundation of a smart-home, providing access to every inter-connected device at once.

The Future of the IoT, and Home Security

Today, the Internet of Things is a term which describes the billions of devices with actuation or sensing capabilities, and connects to each other through the internet. As such, the IoT can include everything from your smart home sensing appliances for security, to your fitness bands, and even automobiles. Though the idea for the Internet of Things emerged a number of decades ago, security has only recently become a high priority for these devices.

For the correct level of security in regards to interconnected devices, all of the items within a home should be able to communicate with each other. At present, this cannot happen if one gadget is from a different company than another, as various products use different frequencies for communication. In order to improve security an IoT device must also be segmented into a private network, where access is restricted through numerous layers of security features. What’s more, users need to monitor that network segment of IoT device to identify anomalous traffic and allow for an immediate reaction. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to properly securing the Internet of Things, and now that it has begun to develop more popularity, the chances are that new solutions will begin to emerge.

In the meantime, homeowners may need to search for alternative solutions to protect their treasured possessions, and address some best practices when using IoT devices:

* Change the default password on connected items

* Always enable two-factor authentication for layered security

* Install any security patches and software updates as soon as they become available

* Protect your Wi-Fi with encryption

* Disable any unnecessary features and watch privacy settings

* Consider placing important documents and irreplaceable heirlooms in a home safe

Alec 169x300 Home Security and the Internet of Things

Alec Feldman is the owner of Western Safe & Vault Co. Alec bought the business in 2000 from two brothers who had worked there their entire lives. Western Safe & Vault Co. was established in 1945 with the legacy continuing with Alec’s management. Alec has more than 15 years of experience in safes, safe service and moving.

 

DATA and ANALYTICS , SECURITY, SOCIAL BUSINESS

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