The smart home could take off in 2017. So who is hosting the apps that you might be putting in control of your home?Posted on 24 January 2017 -
Have you embraced the smart home? The percentages would suggest probably not. Well, if we were addressing the general public, the percentages would probably suggest not. Since you’re reading our blog, the chances are you’re slightly more geeky than the average citizen and it is somewhat more likely that you’re already acquainted with the smart home.
In our 2017 tech predictions blog post, we suggested that the smart home is set to really take off this year and find its place in many more households than has been the case to date. You’ve probably noticed an increase in the number and frequency of adverts online and on television for smart home products. In the predictions article, we picked out Google Nest and Tado, which controls central heating, as being among the most impressive apps so far. We also pointed out the role that Apple Home is starting to play a role in encouraging adoption by integrating various smart home apps into a single control screen.
As we begin to place our trust in these smart home apps, so we will need to make sure they are worthy of that trust. All too often we consumers have seen stories about apps, websites and their servers falling well below the security standards we would have expected and assumed to be in place. This was disconcerting enough when it was personal and financial data that was at stake. Now it is the security and well-being of our family that we’re entrusting to software authors and vendor we will probably never know by name, never mind meet.
Previous hacking scandals have predominantly related to breaches of privacy that came with a threat of identity theft. Now a breach of privacy could result in a hacker meddling inside your home. Burglary victims will attest to the psychological trauma of a physical break-in, so a cyber break-in could have similar effects.
And for anyone who is relying on a smart home app to automatically perform a key function on their behalf, such as feed a pet, regulate room temperature for someone with mobility problems or set an alarm, there is the potential for very real consequences. As with the evolution of the smart phone, the more we increase our reliance the greater those potential consequences become.
That leads us to the question that gave this article its title: who’s hosting your smart home? It will not always be easy to find the answer, but it is important to spend at least some time trying to check out the reputability of the company whose app you are thinking of bringing into your home. It cannot do any harm to ask the company in question about their hosting arrangements and security provisions.
If they’ve got a good answer, you will get a bit more peace of mind. If they haven’t, you might choose to steer clear and hope that your questions help to convince the app’s developers to give these matters more consideration. A small step towards holding the developers accountable, but bigger steps will be needed.