In 2021, the average home is far smarter than ever before. This is due to the fact that there are so many aspects of homes that fall under the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a phrase that describes the network of physical objects that have a variety of different technologies including sensors, software, cameras, and more for the purpose of communicating between each other via the Internet.
To further explain IoT and show how engrained this network is in our homes today, let’s go through just one scenario of a not uncommon evening in the life of a typical home owner. You stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work and pull into your driveway.
While a homeowner typically doesn’t ring their own doorbell, in this scenario, you need help getting the groceries into the home.
The difference between a doorbell of the past and the doorbells of today is IoT — options like Ring Doorbell or Google Nest Hello are much more common. In early 2020, a survey found that 36% of respondents use video door bells in their homes; between the two top sellers (Ring and Nest), over half a million units were sold in 2020, showing that these options are becoming more and more attractive to consumers as the adoption of this technology is growing.
This doorbell allows your spouse at home to see, either on their phone or the interior monitor connected to the doorbell, who it is that is trying to enter the home. Thankfully, it is you returning home from work with groceries; however, it could easily be a stranger with malintent, so these doorbells provide a major security benefit to you as homeowners that would not have been possible in the past.
You greet your spouse and head inside with some of the groceries while they go to fetch the rest. You enter your kitchen to unload your food where it goes. Kitchens are one of the rooms in the home where IoT is most prevalent. This is because nearly all appliances in the kitchen now have a smart alternative.
Smart refrigerators offer a plethora of benefits to those who have them in their homes. Many of these fridges have a display which lets you view the interior of the fridge without having to open it — this allows for users to avoid those useless opening and closing moments when they want to see what is in the fridge. Additionally, because these appliances are connected to the owner’s phone, it allows the user to be notified when maintenance is needed. There are even benefits to this type of refrigerator when you’re not at home — many smart refrigerators let you check remotely via your phone a real-time view of your fridge. This allows you to save on groceries because you won’t buy more eggs or spinach if you already have plenty in the fridge.
The kitchen also offers smart appliances in the dishwasher, oven, range, meat thermometer, coffee pot, and more allowing for ease of use and connectivity when cooking, cleaning, or even just waking up in the morning. You finish unloading the groceries, cook and eat dinner, and your spouse uses the smart dishwasher to finish clean up.
Before going to relax, you put your baby down to get some sleep and give you a few moments of peace. While a baby monitor is nothing new, the technology used to monitor a (hopefully) resting baby has evolved along with all of the other aspects of the home. Rather than the one way radio of the past, baby monitors today allow parents to not only hear their child, but also allows them to watch via camera the baby’s moves as well as even talk to and soothe the baby from a completely different room. This often gives parents major peace of mind because they can not only hear but also see how the baby is doing. However, this is one of the major devices to be considered when it comes to securing your smart home — all IoT devices have the risk of being hacked, but the implications of a hacker having visual access to your baby or possibly being able to speak to them is something to make any parent very uneasy.
Virtual Assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri are some of the first Artificial Intelligence technology that have been widely adopted. Devices like Amazon Echo and even our phones put us in connection with these virtual assistants and for many, these are commonly found throughout the home in many rooms. After a filling dinner and successful cleanup you and your spouse go outside and tell Alexa to start playing one of your favorite playlists through the smart speakers. You can also use these virtual assistants to connect to and control all other devices in your home. Commands like “lower the lights” to an Alexa connected to smart lighting system or monitoring questions like “what is the temperature?” to a virtual assistant connected to the home’s smart thermostat are just mere examples of how these assistants can be used as control hubs for the entire home. These devices truly assist you in monitoring and using your IoT devices in the connected home.
Lock, Surveillance, and Security
Before you go to bed yourself, you are sure to lock up. As opposed to a non-smart home, you do not just take this time to lock the doors and close the windows, but also to secure your home with a smart lock and smart home security system so that your home is extra protected. These IoT devices can connect to your phone and notify you in the case of a door or window being opened while you are sleeping. This can give homeowners extra peace of mind when it comes to the security of their homes and is often one of the first IoT devices adopted by homeowners for that reason.
Protecting Your Home
As we can see from this one example, IoT is available in every room of the home. While this network can help to make your home life easier, provide peace of mind, and much more, it is incredibly important to protect these devices as you would your computer or anything other piece of traditional technology. While some IoT devices being hacked only result in your perishables going bad in the fridge, if other systems are compromised like security systems, locks, or baby monitors, there are some serious, possibly physical, consequences that could be faced. Because of this, taking adequate cybersecurity steps are key in protecting your home.
- Secure your Wi-Fi Network – The main way hackers get into homes is through weak Wi-Fi connections. Secure your home’s Internet by using a strong Wi-Fi password so that hackers cannot enter through it.
- Use Strong Passwords for your IoT Devices – Not only should your Wi-Fi use a strong password, but all passwords for your IoT devices and apps should be strong and not repeated. IoT devices are highly hackable because people tend to use the factory setting passwords rather than updating to a unique, safe password.
- Utilize two-factor authentication when possible – You should use strong passwords for everything, and where possible, you should use any additional security methods to protect these devices from attack. Because IoT security has been such an issue in the past, many developers of IoT devices today have allowed for two-factor authentication to be used. This means that you use both a typical password but also another means to authenticate that you are a legitimate user such as a one-time code texted to your phone or emailed to you. Another layer of security can only help to further secure your smart home.