People all over the world spend a lot of money to equip their home with the latest technology. Maybe you have voice-activated speakers or online security systems for yourself, and for your peace of mind. With all of the new home technology released with safeguards, you still have to ask yourself: are you inviting hackers into your home?
While having the latest in gadgets decorating your home is tempting, ensure that you know the risks that come along with it. Also, make sure that the company you purchase your technology from offers some protection.
Are They Listening?
Devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo are becoming increasingly popular. They’re speakers that have microphones built inside of them, and they are designed to follow the command of your voice. If you want to know what the temperature is or what you have planned later in the afternoon, all you need to do is ask. Additionally, many smart TVs have gotten designed to follow voice commands.
Having devices in your home that follow the command of your voice is cool. However, you have to think about how they are doing it. The devices are always listening for your sound, sending the command over a server when they receive it, and then connecting with another corporate service to carry out the control. Does that mean that these devices are hearing your private conversations unless they’re completely shut off? Are they getting broadcasted over the internet?
There are smart devices that come with safeguards attached to them. For example, the speaker is only going to come to life once you speak a particular command phrase or press a button. Some go further by including a mute button that disables the microphone until you see fit. Amazon even promises that recordings never go to the cloud unless activated. If you’re looking into purchasing that kind of technology, you should look into one that comes with that protection.
Nothing is guaranteed. One of the WikiLeaks disclosures made allegations that the CIA commanded Samsung smart televisions to listen even when it appeared turned off. Toys that connect through the internet should get cautioned, too. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to rush highly sought after products to market, ultimately missing out on included privacy features in the process.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that manufacturers store the voice commands you send over the internet. It helps them create better products in the future that you would be more likely to buy. Delete your voice history often if you can.
Are They Watching?
Security cameras that can get monitored from anywhere have been on the rise over the last decade. The more reputable the brand, the more your security gets guaranteed, but nothing is ever perfect. Nest, a sibling company to Google, has the Cam IQ which lets you check in on your home throughout the day, and it also stores video.
Just like with the speakers, you want to be careful about what’s being said around the cameras as they do have microphones attached to them. You can unplug the cameras entirely if you don’t want it to capture any background noise, but make sure you remember to plug it back in.
Another security measure to keep in mind when it comes to cameras is covering your laptops with tape. The majority of the time, your webcam isn’t going to get activated unless the app initializes it on your computer. However, malware and viruses have been known to activate cameras remotely, and without you knowing. That gets done as a way to get your photograph.
Speakers and cameras aren’t the only home technology that’s on the rise; smart locks are too. Typically, smart locks get used in conjunction with an app that lets you open the door for guests; even when you aren’t at home. It’s known to be quite secure.
The downside to the smart locks is they do leave digital footprints. Rental properties have started to use them more frequently. It makes it so the landlord can disable your key when you move out. However, they can also track where you are, and your guests.
How you choose to bring technology into your home is always something you should think about. Anything that runs on a server doesn’t have complete security, which could put you in a vulnerable position. The majorities of the companies who offer these services are reputable and have substantial protection measures set in place. As long as you ask the right questions and prepare for yourself, you should be fine.
Would you use smart technology in your home? Do you trust any information that gets sent over the internet?