Smart Homes – a smart idea?
by Jakob and ?
“There is nothing more important than a good,
safe and secure home”, but how safe is a home where an AI listen all the time,
no matter what time of day? Smart speakers are supposed to be useful friends
and helpers, which should make your life easier. And often they do. But in
order to deliver better and more accurate results, the algorithm needs data. A
lot of data. To do this, the AI analyses the requests and language habits of
its owners. As soon as the speech software thinks it can hear one of the key
words, it records the voice. Some
claim that the smart home devices falsify these and pretend to have heard one
of the key words. No matter whether the consent of the respective person is
present or not. No matter whether the software notices a „false
alarm“, such as a misunderstood word or a radio sound, afterwards or not:
the recording is saved.
The question that should now be posed to users: Is the relief in everyday life worthwhile, even if you sacrifice large parts of your privacy for it?
Everyone knows the situation: you come home in the evening and the shutters are not closed, the heating is not on or the light is off. From this situation you can already derive the greatest advantages of Smart Homes. They can make everyday life easier. Doors and windows can be opened remotely, intelligent motion detectors turn on the light as soon as you approach the apartment, smart heating systems allow fitters remote access when maintenance is due, or a fault needs to be rectified. If there is a storm, doors, windows and the awning close. The smart devices are automatically interconnected and do not require the presence of the occupant.
Smart terminals increase security. Light, shutters, awnings, television and music are randomly switched on and off and thus simulate a permanent presence of the occupant to the outside world. This is supported by smart smoke detectors and cameras and can therefore guarantee optimum security as part of the overall package.
But the many advantages also have their costs. On the one hand, the systems are not yet standardized and mature. Many smart home devices are not compatible with each other due to different radio waves and can offer insufficient protection to hackers who can gain access to the smart homes. In addition, the price can skyrocket to astronomical heights, as numerous terminal devices and a control centre are required for an optimal smart home.
When buying a smart home, the most important point is often forgotten; without enough encryption, the smart home offers numerous possibilities for external access by third parties. Data storage is opaque and usually cannot be monitored and viewed by the user. In addition, it is controversial whether other organisations or the manufacturers of smart homes cannot listen in on certain situations in everyday life or whether the data can be used by the police as useful information in the event of a crime. In addition, it is questionable to what extent burglars are stopped by electronic barriers, the smart home serves only as a useful support, mechanical barriers are nevertheless indispensable.
But even 61 percent of Germans already have other smart devices connected to the Internet in addition to computers or mobile phones, but only 49 percent of them are concerned about protecting their devices from attacks.
An example where a smart home was hacked happened in the USA:
An American couple bought two smart home devices, one security camera with a speaker and one thermostat, for 700$ to bring them more security and comfort. But instead of it a hacker terrorized them by playing vulgar music on the security camera and raising the temperature in the house to 32 degrees. The problem was that the man had used the password for the Smart Home on various other websites and so the hacker could hack into his Smart Home with the same password.
We agree that we will only buy smart home devices once they are mature and secure, as they can give a deep insight into a person’s privacy, as they are usually placed in the very centre of their life, such as the living room or bedroom. The biggest problem is that we don’t know what companies do with this data and how well it is protected. If these problems are solved in the future, we’ll be happy to think about experiencing the benefits of smart homes for ourselves.