Smart homes let you connect your home to devices in order to automatically turn on and off the lights, the TV, the air conditioning and so on through the power of a mobile app. While it’s pretty cool to be able to turn on the air conditioning to get the house cooled down as you head home from work, these networks are not without their weaknesses.
Forbes writer Kashmir Hill found that a now discontinued product from Insteon, which didn’t require users to create user names and passwords, allowed him to gain access to the homes of strangers and control their appliances from afar. Here is more from Forbes:
Thomas Hatley’s home was one of eight that I was able to access. Sensitive information was revealed – not just what appliances and devices people had, but their time zone (along with the closest major city to their home), IP addresses and even the name of a child; apparently, the parents wanted the ability to pull the plug on his television from afar. In at least three cases, there was enough information to link the homes on the Internet to their locations in the real world. The names for most of the systems were generic, but in one of those cases, it included a street address that I was able to track down to a house in Connecticut.
But having a smarthome doesn’t have to turn into a 21st century horror movie. Using usernames and passwords and keeping your private information from being published online is the first step in keeping you from having your smart home hacked. In addition, there are a number of new services coming to market designed to protect users, time will tell if they work.