Just like smartphones, we can start using smart home gadgets extensively within the beginning of the last decade. If you don’t know about, what smart homes are, and how do the work, you can find all the details about smart homes here. Smart homes can always make our lives easier just like all other innovations in technology do. However, smart homes are also not free from its own set of problems, similar to all other electronic gadgets that we use in our everyday lives. Smart homes are also a new kind of technology, and I am sure it will improve with time.
Talking about smart homes, we will use them in a different way, if compared to that of smartphones and other electronic gadgets. Smart homes are supposed to offer service to us 24×7, which means, the vulnerability that arises out of it and the problems that we might face can be different from those that we often face while using our smartphones. Even though there are numerous existing problems, most problems can easily be eradicated, once smart homes become mainstream in the era of technology. It is just a matter of time to get the most optimized smart home experience.
So, let’s get started with the problems that most people could face, and threats associated with smart home technology at this point in time.
Identity theft in an even better way
If you don’t know about identity theft, it is the process of stealing your identity in some way or the other. Once your identity is stolen it can be used to carry out the online activity on behalf of you and also for carrying out and a number of other mischievous tasks. Right now, identity theft is a major problem with smart homes and I will have to talk about this particular issue, in more detail than other problems with smart homes.
I will not talk about how exactly identity theft is carried out. But stealing the identity in the case of smart homes is kind of similar to stealing identity in other electronic gadgets. But in the case of smart homes, identity theft is a level ahead, because the one who will be stealing your identity will also know your habits. How? The attacker or the hacker will be able to know exactly when you return home, how often you watch your TV, which kind of programs and shows you watch, the time you switch on the air conditioner and geyser, and everything else that is a part of your smart home.
As everything is connected to the central hub or is controlled by your smartphone, all your individual data or habits can be easily tracked by hacking your Central smart home hub or your smartphone, if one of them is not that secure. Once the individual habits are known to the hacker, it can be used for implementing the next steps followed by identity theft in an even better way. It will eventually be easier for the hacker to impersonate you for doing something bad.
When there is a connection between multiple gadgets locally, or through the web, connection problems will come along the way. Well, talking about connection problems in smart homes, it can be very annoying. Just consider your everyday fan and light switch. Simply use your switch on the switchboard to turn it on and off whenever you want. That’s the simplest. But when you are doing the same using a smart home gadget on your smartphone, some digital signals are being sent between multiple gadgets even for doing the simplest of tasks.
Just like your super fast 100 Mbps internet connection will fail to show even a small text-based web page from the nineties, smart home gadgets, with all its glory, will stop functioning or will stop receiving signals once there is a connection problem, or the connection breaks down at all. As smart home gadgets talk with each other multiple times a day, either through a router, it might get overwhelmed handling all such communications at once and this might lead to connection drops.
However, if you are using a smart home hub, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, your problems can be resolved to some extent, as such gadgets are meant to handle multiple smart home gadgets and their communications at the same time. So, if you are having multiple smart home gadgets in your home, it is better that you get a smart home hub for the best experience of using them.
No unified protocol
Even though most smartphone gadgets will communicate with each other, through the internet or locally, using a Wi-Fi or Ethernet interface, the same is also used by other electronic gadgets within your home. There is no common or unified protocol through which only smart homes will communicate with each other. Sometimes, the unavailability of separate protocols for communication eventually creates more congestion in your home Wi-Fi network.
Besides that, depending upon the type of smart home gadget that you are using, it can even depend on additional protocols or communication methods like Bluetooth. So, if a particular smart home gadget has Bluetooth connectivity instead of Wi-Fi or internet connectivity, the smart home gadget that it will communicate with should have support for Bluetooth as well. Eventually, it creates new problems if the smart home gadgets that you are using do not have the supported protocols and communication methods to communicate with each other.
We all know the OK Google hot word. What it does is, pops up Google Assistant on our smartphone, or activate the Google Home assistant to listen to our commands. The problem lies here. When you try to communicate with your family members or others in our home, the assistant can accidentally get activated to listen to the commands. This thing is really irritating.
Besides that, your TV can automatically get turned on, or the channel might get changed accepting accidental commands which can also be equally irritating. Though this problem can be solved in numerous ways, and by choosing an appropriate hot word, which you will never pronounce unless necessary. However, with time, the smart home hubs and assistants are also getting smarter, which should prevent unnecessary wake-ups in the future.
Targeted attacks are easy
As I have already discussed identity theft, targeted attacks are kind of associated with this problem. Targeted attacks are attacks, which are specially designated for a certain class of users or an individual. By hacking a particular smart home gadget it can currently be used to exploit the other devices on the same network.
By hacking a particular smart home gadget, it can be used for a number of purposes and to make it work abnormally or make it work differently from the way you want it to do. For example, you might suddenly feel warm and uncomfortable at night, as your air conditioner has been turned off by the attacker and you can’t turn it back on.
As most smart home gadgets need to be controlled electronically from your mobile or from a central hub, this can come out to be a real problem, when the smart home gadgets go out of your control. Depending upon the motive of the hacker or the attacker, more serious attacks can be carried out, which can knock out your gadgets or can serious accidents in the worst case. This can happen if all the failsafe within your smart home gadgets are disabled or tampered by hacking the BIOS of a particular smart home gadget.
Lack of security updates
This is a common problem in smartphones. Most smartphones available in the market do not get timely security patches and updates, which leaves them vulnerable right after purchasing or after some point of time. The same problem is applicable to smart home gadgets. With time, the problem will go more intense unless the manufacturers take the unified decision of securing their manufactured smart home gadgets from time to time with timely updates.
With more smart home gadgets that will be manufactured in the market in the coming days, it will turn out to be more difficult for the manufacturers to roll out timely updates for the gadgets. I don’t know whether this problem will be resolved, as it all depends upon the manufacturers of smart home gadgets. Timely updates and security patches will eventually help the smart home gadgets to deliver its optimum performance by keeping away problems of identity theft and a number of other problems, which I have discussed here.
Product life cycles can be at risk
Talking about smartphones, most manufacturers will provide security updates for the next 3 to 4 years from the date of manufacture and it can be even less for certain manufacturers. When it comes to smartphones and computers, 4 to 5 years of service makes enough sense, as most people will switch to a new one within that time or after that. But the same is not applicable to all the household gadgets that we use. For example, our TVs, air conditioners and geysers are meant to be used for even longer, which can be close to 10 to 12 years from the date of manufacture. In the case of regular electronic gadgets, we get a service of 1 or 2 years and after that, we have to pay for getting a service.
But talking about smart home gadgets, we also need to use such smart gadgets for a long period of time, and the manufacturer should offer long term software support, at least as long as most people will use it. I already talked about identity theft and the possibility of smart home gadgets getting hacked, it is the responsibility of the manufacturers to offer regular security updates till a certain point of time so that they don’t become vulnerable. So, for smart home gadgets, the manufacturer should offer the same warranty period and should offer security updates for a long time. so that they don’t become vulnerable after 1 or 2 years from the date of manufacture.
So, those are the problems of smart home gadgets, which you might face at this point in time. Some problems might get solved once the smart homes become mainstream, but there are some problems, which I don’t know, how they will be handled by the manufacturers. But just like any other new technology, the technology of smart homes will also get matured to deliver optimum performance with as few problems as possible.
Those were the issues and problems which smart homes at this point in time. Do you know any other significant problems in smart homes and smart home gadgets? Feel free to comment on the same below.