Towards Security issues in Smart Homes?

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The Internet-of-Things (IoT) and the idea of the “smart home” have grown dramatically in the last few years. Smart home technology has entirely changed our lifestyle in such a way that everything from the fridge to furnace everything is now interconnected. Everyone around the world is now embracing smart cities applications, yet the matter of security of personal data has become more important than ever. Recent reports about the risks of smart cities applications have revealed the security breaches of smart home security. It was revealed in 2011 that fitness tracker giant Fitbit found their profiles were public and accessible on Google. Smart home devices are prone to data breaching as well. It was reported in a recent article that Comcast’s Xfinity Home Security had some flaws. It showed that the windows and doors are secured when in fact they were unlocked and open. Tod Beardsley of Rapid7, in response to these security weaknesses told CSO that, “IoT devices tend to be designed with a happy path in mind, often don’t consider an active adversary.”  In this article, we have discussed potential cyber security challenges for IoT devices based smart homes along with some possible innovative solutions.

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What are the key security challenges in Smart Homes?

It is evident that each week there are new challenges reported about the IoT Security, fuelled by reports of homes suffering from ‘digital break-ins’ and family members intimidated by the perpetrators. Smart home security is the top priority of every individual. There are several potential smart home security solutions available that promise to keep smart home inhabitants safe with some intelligent supervision at home. Smart homes can assist its occupants to not only monitor their home remotely but also to ensure to safety of their children at home. However, deployment of IoT smart home solutions may cause potential security issues to our personal data and privacy at home. Many app-controlled smart home devices relay information about the home to external servers for processing. By storing information in the cloud, these solutions offer convenient control for the home. An overview of potential security vulnerabilities in various IoT-based devices such as smart plugs deployed in a smart home is shown in figure 2 below. However, homeowners who opt for several smart home devices may need a separate app for each product. As a result, there might be a greater chance of data breaches.

A case study of security drawbacks in Smart Homes

In this section, a case study of smart home security camera issue is presented. Specifically, network connected cameras have many security vulnerabilities because they don’t encrypt data and have weak policies regarding passwords.  It was in an article by Infosec Institute. Although devices like webcam and hidden cameras are subject to give extra security assurance about one’s home. However, there could be some drawbacks of IP based connected cameras connected to smart homes. Specifically, it can allow hackers to access into IP base camera recordings. For the purpose of safety it is recommended to search about the history of security of the camera manufacturers so that you will come to know about the level of encryption used in the device.  It also recommended to use secure Wi-Fi and strong passwords to optimize security. About 73,000 security cameras were hacked in year 2014 as a result of the unchanged default password.  Weak passwords are more prone to cyber attacks and should be regarded seriously. Even though users cannot have the right to control device’s security infrastructure, users do have the power to avoid public networks and set highly secure passwords. Lack of security infrastructure in the manufacturing of smart home devices is the most evident cause of vulnerability of smart devices. A recent article by Business Insider asserted that IoT products lack particular industry security standards for their manufacturer.

Future Work for security in Smart Homes:

Although IoT has made our lives easy yet our personal data is more at risk. We are now responsible for our own protection against the weakly secured IoT devices. Since smart home devices purely rely on remote access and cloud servers, security of customer data in the cloud server and on the devices has become an inevitable challenge. Despite the fact that connected home products guarantee consumer’s convenience, these devices may have some serious loop holes.  Security needs should be included at an early stage of product design, and implemented in every aspect of the system.

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