The use of smart security devices is on the rise, with 80 million smart home devices delivered worldwide in 2016—a 64% increase from 2015—and 32% of American households owning a smart home device. This increased popularity is easy to understand, with smart devices offering owners substantial control over their security, as well as becoming more affordable.
Many homeowners are starting to see smart security as a necessity for their property, yet fears have been raised that such technology can be susceptible to hacking. Other alternative, but more reliable home security security measures have experienced similar growth, with security companies noting that traditional CCTV systems are no longer just for commercial properties. But with smart security seemingly here to stay, will it be the future of home security, or simply a fad?
What types of smart security devices are there?
There are a wide range of smart security devices on the market, with as locks, video alarm systems and security lighting all getting the smart treatment. Such devices offer homeowners significant control by being linked to their smartphones, allowing them to monitor and control their home security from afar.
For example, smart door locks like the August Smart Lock Pro + Connect enables homeowners to control who accesses their homes through their smartphones. Homeowners can create approved lists for who they want to let inside and are alerted via their phone whenever somebody does. Those seeking to gain access simply use their own smartphones to enter. Access privileges can be revoked at any time, giving users extra peace of mind when permitting access to their home to others.
Another popular form of smart security device is a video alarm system, with the Nest Outdoor video camera leading the pack. The Nest Outdoor works like a standard security camera, but can also send a live video feed to smartphones; it also uses motion sensors to track any unusual movement, sending an alert to the connected phone in the event of any suspicious activity. Motion sensor technology also informs smart lighting systems, which can warn homeowners of any trespassers.
What are the risks of smart home security?
Whilst the enhanced protection and control offered by these devices is readily apparent, there could actually be greater risks in using them over traditional security systems. This is due to the fact that they rely on a property’s internet connection, which means that they can be just as vulnerable to hacking as a computer.
Experts have warned that the Internet of Things (IoT)—the increased connectivity of common household items, including home security—is particularly susceptible to hacking, putting the very purpose of smart home security in potential jeopardy. Worryingly for homeowners, such devices are even crawlable by search engines, allowing them to be located through a straightforward Google search.
Consumers cannot even buy additional protections such as antivirus software for these devices, as much smart technology is “powered by tiny computers that security software makers cannot access”. In addition, experts have warned that such devices are “too dumb” to stave off cyber attacks, as they run on open-source software, which can be used and modified by anyone, rendering them more hackable.
What can homeowners do to protect themselves?
Despite these risks, there are a number of methods by which users can safeguard themselves. One of the most simple ways to do this is through having a strong password in place on each of their devices. This protects against some of the threats discussed above, and should ensure that the risk of hacking is minimal.
Homeowners should also think about minimising the amount of smart security they have; the more devices they own, the more possibility there is of being hacked. Instead, it makes sense to assess what (if any) type of smart home security device their home needs. Is it really necessary to have a video doorbell that allows them to talk to the postman? Probably not. Stick to what is essential.
Are smart security devices the future of home security?
The global home automation system market is forecasted to grow from $35.24 billion in 2016 to $113.82 billion by 2025, which would suggest that smart security devices are far from a mere fad, despite the risks highlighted. These risks can be partly attributed to the technology being in its infancy, and as time goes on, makers of smart security systems should be addressing these pressing concerns.
However, this does not mean that all traditional forms of security should be abandoned. Whilst many smart systems are becoming less expensive, classic security systems are still more affordable, and also offer a robust form of security without the hacking vulnerabilities that are currently dogging the new technology.