The smart home is characterized by interconnection and communication between different systems, whether it is lighting, music system, cameras, thermostats, door locks, or even lawn mowers or window shutters.
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But the increase of networks in the smart home has led to the flow of more information through these systems, and here arises a question for the user about the paths that this data takes, and how secure are the communications in smart home networks?
Tim Brauer, from the German technology portal, explains that there are different possibilities for connecting home appliances to networks, and he said, “Bridge technology is often used to control the smart home.”
The German expert added that this technology is a type of distribution device for devices connected to the home network, where the bridge connects one or more smart home equipment to the Internet, and the devices, in turn, communicate with the bridge in an encrypted form via Bluetooth technology or smart home standards such as ZigBee ( Zigbee) Z-Wave.
Pure local area networks are another alternative for connecting smart home equipment, and these systems usually need a router in all cases.
“In this case, the smart home equipment is connected to the home network only, and there is no Internet connection, and the advantage of these networks is the very high level of privacy and data protection, but the disadvantage is the low level of comfort, as Cameras cannot be used remotely.
Pure cloud computing systems are the third alternative to connecting smart home devices, and Jörg Geiger, from the specialized German magazine “Chip”, explains, “With this type of smart home network, user data, settings and configuration data are stored on external servers.” This applies, for example, to a system Apple Homekit, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa.
In order for the user to make the settings, he has to access the server of the company providing the service.
The extent of data security with these systems is related to the user himself and the company that produces the smart home devices, and Jaeger added, “The user must essentially use data encryption technology in all data flows,” so that transfer encryption has become one of the basic standards in data transfers, but there is no Standardization with smart home equipment, which makes perfect protection even more difficult.
The new communication standard
This situation is expected to change with efforts to develop smart home standards, which are backed by all the major producers and internet giants in the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA).
The new Matter connectivity standard, formerly CHIP for Connected Home over IP, ensures that smart devices work with each other regardless of manufacturer, to Besides providing higher levels of security and reliability.
“The security in the devices themselves depends on firmware or firmware updates, and security holes will appear if these updates are not regularly rolled out,” Jaeger adds. Always with the need to secure it with a strong password.
In addition, the user has to rely on international companies and well-known brands, since they are more interested than unknown companies or anonymous products, which are scattered at cheap prices on electronic stores such as Amazon and others, and well-known international companies usually provide updates on a regular basis and are downloaded Security updates automatically.
On the other hand, companies, which offer cheap products, it is often not clear the origin of these products and the location of their servers, in addition to the fact that each separate password must be used for each service and each account login, and here Brawer advised using password management software to help In managing various services and accounts.
Good smart home products allow the user to check and identify the data that is being transferred. “User data is often transferred to the manufacturer in bulk, but here they can object to these settings and intervene later to modify them,” Jaeger said.
Often the user is able to adjust the accessibility of the Internet via the user interface, and Arnold said “if the user gives up this feature it certainly increases the security standards” and it may be useful to adjust this function temporarily, such as disabling access to the robotic lawn mower by Internet during the winter.
Consequences of hacking
And if device data reaches strangers, usually no damage occurs to the home network itself, and Arnold says, “The service of the manufacturer often represents a gateway to the leakage of malware, which hackers rely on to gain access to user data and access devices.” The consequences of these attacks range from functional failures to devices And even hacking user data and passwords.
Brauer advises that there should be an alternative to manual control of smart home devices, for example, through the availability of a traditional key in case the smart key fails, or manually raising the window shutter in case the server of the producing company is not reached, and in the case of fully smart lighting systems, additional keys are available that work without an Internet connection.
The German expert concludes that care and caution must be exercised with used devices in particular, and he reasoned that “some smart home devices cannot be returned to factory settings easily, such as a smartphone or laptop,” but they remain linked to the account of the first owner.” In such cases, it is necessary to verify the The company provides appropriate support in these situations.