Why I Don’t do the “Smart Home” Thing [Yet]

It’s the rage, the buzz, the ads, the “gotta haves.”

I’m not going to lie. They are neat. Who wouldn’t want to check what is in their fridge while they are at the store? Who wouldn’t want to know who is at their door so they do not have to get up from their nap?    …    ME!!!

1. Are they really necessary?

What do we gain from all the smart devices? I contend that they have made us more lazy and take away our ability to plan. For an example, the landline phone used to be a staple of “home.” There’s a growing movement to bring it back. I certainly am one that has brought it back. From social interaction to training of children, there are some very good reasons in this article.

I am not opposed to you if you think it’s easier to tell Alexia to turn off your lamp. It is nice to be able to check if you shut your garage door when you left the house.  I don’t even mind a camera to see who is in your front driveway.  In reality, it’s not all necessary.

2. They are not secure

Security professionals all over will tell you this.  There is no standard of security for them.  WiFi is a standard.  There are specific “rules” a vendor must follow to have the “WiFi” logo placed on their device.  There is a governing body that makes these rules and checks them.  It is called the WiFi Alliance, and it is a group of real people who know what they are doing.

This is not the case with smart home devices, otherwise called IoT (Internet of Things) devices.  Companies are very quick to send a product to market, promising that their product will make your life better.  They are very concerned about making money, but security only comes later.  Devices do not sell on security, they sell on features.  Therefore, many of these devices are not made secure until the company has backlash from a breach.  At that point, it is too late.

3. They aren’t “yours”

TVs have come down in price.  That’s WONDERFUL…or is it?  It is not what you think.  YOU are the product!  What you do with that device is happily reported to the manufacturer, who is able to turn around and sell your data to the highest bidder.  Did you notice the Terms & Agreement you had to accept when you set the device up?  There is a reason for that!

“But that is just smart TV’s…my smart speaker is OK.”  Wrong!!!  I really don’t care for the beliefs of the media organization “Vox,” but here is a video they made that explains well:

4. Many have been “hacked” or watched.

I’ve heard it before. “I use a good password,” or “I check my accounts.” When I hear that, I think “Well, that’s nice.” The problem is them. The manufacturer. What are they seeing. Who is in your account?

A little while back, it came out that an ADT company technician made and kept logins for certain cameras that needed troubleshooting, and he would “re-visit” the feed to watch the customer do certain things…

Even Ring (by Amazon) has been hacked.

Passwords are dangerous.

Especially ones that you make. EVERY password you make is predictable. Sure, a person might have a 1 in 1,000 chance of guessing it, but a computer that can guess 1,000 passwords in a second can get in very quickly. I used to use variations of my dog’s name. For example let’s say my dog’s name was “Barkley.” A good password used to be “Barkley95”. Not anymore. How about “Barkley19(%”? Better, but still not good. A computer would know to try that. Let’s say that you make every website with a different variation of “Barkley…” A hacker just has to get one, and he can “guess” the rest with computers in a very small amount of time.

My thoughts stated as rules:

1. Don’t buy every device you think you need.

2. Look at the security they have put into the product. Forego the cheapest ones.

3. Understand that you are the product, and that the manufacture IS collecting your data.

4. Do not buy in unless you understand that you WILL be hacked at some point. It is not a matter of IF, it’s WHEN!

4.1 Use a password manager and make ALL passwords completely random.

I personally recommend LastPass, although they have recently made changes to make their free version not as appealing.

2 Responses

  • Apple has been more and more coming out with updated smart speakers, Apple TV’s, HomePod’s, etc. What is your take on these specifically? I know in the past you have said Apple is more secure with it’s firewalls, compared to other big tech brands like Amazon, facebook, google, etc. Would you steer clear of these Apple “smart” devices?

    • Part of my issue historically is the lack of “ecosystem.” There’s no one company hitting it out of the ballpark when it comes to features, security, and general use. Homekit and Alexa have helped, but there does not exist one solution to fit everything into. Any smart home (unless you spend huge money) is a hodge-podge of this app and that app. I certainly do see a ripe market for a simple, cross-platform solution.

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