Let’s face it: the good old days of home security are coming to an end. We used to be able to leave home for vacations with total confidence that our home alarm system would deter intruders or burglars. If they wanted to prowl around a bit more, they would get a chance to meet our pet Doberman pinschers or German shepherds, face to snarling face.
Now, the questions are a little different: Will someone hack my computers and devices? Will they compromise our home broadband? Will they sabotage or disable the home automation system? In other words, how am I well-protected from a cyberattack against my house?
Rather than looking at the house as a single unit to be secured, the smart home breaks down into its component parts: air conditioning, heating, lighting, water supply, sewage and security systems, room and fire sensors. All or some of these are controlled by your home automation system, which runs on a server (a simple PC, in most cases). If you control the functions remotely via tablet, desktop or smartphone, then it runs over the Internet, too.
Those add up to a lot of security concerns. First, the system is vulnerable to malware, hacks, and unauthorized access, at every level from alarms to kitchen appliances, so a strong firewall is a must. So is a proxy server.
In addition, home automation systems run on sensors, such as motion sensors, or lifestyle pattern sensors that you have pre-set to regulate heating or cooling in specific rooms, the coffee maker timer, and other daily conveniences. Video surveillance also runs on detection sensors. All of these sensors are synchronized with the server with various mobile devices (such as tablets and smartphones), which make them the weakest and most vulnerable part of the system. Thieves can literally hack the system and turn off motion sensors long enough to get in the house, do their evil business, and leave. This area needs to be addressed directly, and often.
Solutions range from function specific to entire home systems. For instance, Honeywell’s VISTA- 10P comes with a six-zone panel, but can be fitted to arm 22 zones — and activated with a single button. That effectively seals up your house, all automation features, and your server. No one is getting inside your computer or home unless you forget to activate it.
Others collaborate. GE’s SmartCom augments its control of home sub-systems and security zones by supporting a number of customizable security systems from other vendors, including Simon and Concord. Schlage, the heavy-duty lock manufacturer, even weighs in with its new wireless locks, including the plug-in RP200 Z Wave Light Module to secure appliances and lights.
Do your homework, and remember: security precautions for standard homes are just as technologically outdated as those homes themselves when migrated into the smart home environment.