The smarts behind a smart home come from you. At least when it comes to keeping it more private and secure.
Without question, smart home devices have truly stormed the marketplace. We’ve gone from a handful of relatively straightforward things like connected lights, outlets, and cameras to a wide range of fully connected household appliances like refrigerators, stoves, and laundry machines. You can even water your garden with smart devices, which check for soil moisture, weather reports, and for what you’re watering.
Further new technologies like the Matter protocol aim to make them all work more reliably and easily—with a new networking standard that allows different devices from different platforms to work together. Something they couldn’t do before and something that likely kept people from adding to their connected home because of compatibility issues. No more.
It’s exciting, as it should be. Yet the security and privacy measures for these devices hasn’t quite kept up with all this rapid development and expansion. Not across the board, anyway. Security isn’t always built into these devices. In some cases, it’s so poorly handled that it makes some devices prone to attack.
However, you can absolutely enjoy a smart home and all the comforts and conveniences that come along with it. Safely. Just a little extra effort from you makes it possible. And you don’t need to be any kind of whiz to pull it off.
Why security for your smart appliances and smart devices counts
For starters, the old security adage holds true for smart homes and devices: “If it’s connected, it must be protected.” Any connected device can provide a hacker with an inroad to your home network and the data and devices on it. So even that seemingly innocent smart wall outlet that you use to run your living room lamps could be a target.
In fact, we’ve seen instances where a little outlet created a big security issue, such as one report where an unsecure plug used poor factory passwords and didn’t use secure encryption to communicate with the household router. The result—hackers could obtain login credentials to a victim’s entire home network.
Another old security adage is that your home network is only as secure as your weakest device. In the above case, that was a poorly designed smart outlet—at least from a security standpoint.
Now consider a highly connected smart home with a dozen or so smart devices. Maybe some of those have great security built in and are backed by manufacturers that update them regularly for ongoing security. And maybe some of those other devices, not so much. Again, just one poorly secured device in that mix could jeopardize your connected things, along with the data you keep on them.
Privacy for smart appliances and smart devices counts too
On the topic of data, we often talk about privacy policies and how they’re not all created equal. Depending on the app, device, and operating system—along with any settings you have control over too—may determine what information a company collects, keeps, and shares about you and your usage. Moreover, it may determine what they or other third parties might do with that data as well.
Put simply, not every company treats your personal data the same way. Some may sell it to data brokers for profit or share it with third parties like insurance companies, government agencies, law enforcement, and others according to findings published by some industry groups.
Still others may not sell that data, yet they will share it with third parties for analysis or use it to fuel their own advertising campaigns or advertising platforms they own. And of course, there are others who collect and analyze the bare minimum and keep that data to themselves.
Consider once more that smart home filled with a dozen or so smart devices. That likely means several different data privacy policies are in play as well, each handing the data created by that home in different ways. And in ways that you may or may not be fully aware of, given that privacy policies are often notoriously long reads, sometimes filled with legalese.
Without question, privacy is another consideration for your smart home.
You have more control over your smart home security and privacy than you might think
You can do plenty of things that can make your smart devices more private and more secure than they were when they came out of the box. And as mentioned above, the steps are all rather straightforward. Our Smart Home Security Guide lays it out for you.
It’s part of the McAfee Security Guide Series, and in it you’ll get a closer look at how you can protect a smart wall outlet, along with that smart coffeemaker, door lock, refrigerator and more. It covers the basics of protection, how to shop for more private and secure smart devices, plus a section that talks specifically about smart speakers and protecting your privacy while using them.
In all, our Smart Home Security Guide is here to help. The truth is that security isn’t always included with smart home devices. Not right out of the box anyway. Just like with your computers, smartphones, and other devices, the best security relies on you. With a handful of steps, you can enjoy your smart home with confidence.