Security Issues with Smart Living

One of the great debates of the millennial age seems to concern the pros and cons of technology: What factors are we swapping out for convenience and ease? Though technology might have the illusion of providing humans with extensive control and options, the truth is that buying gadgets hands your power over to devices instead. Technology doesn’t rid your responsibilities. Instead, it passes on your responsibilities to corporations that are too vulnerable to outside attack. These drawbacks can be spotted in Smart Living, a prime example of where technology’s dark side may reside.

A major issue with smart living is privacy. Have you ever wondered who is on the other side of your Google Home digital assistant? If you’ve ever heard of the term “digital footprint,” you know the perils of having your every move online stored into a separate database. The same goes for having a device that controls your home appliances. According to an article written by VentureBeat, having a digital assistant product is “basically [like having] a microphone in your home that is always listening to your conversations.” Although in most circumstances, voice control devices only send data back to the company when keywords or commands are said, there is much room for mistakes. Think about the time when you were talking with a friend and all of a sudden your iPhone’s Siri responded to a question you never even asked. This is an example of what can go wrong. As voice devices are mechanical, they are prone to misunderstand words and respond to non-existent commands that may result in unwanted data being stored. 

Another concern with home technological products is how prone they are to being hacked. An article last updated in 2019 by TheNational observed that “last year saw a marked increase in hackers targeting internet-connected devices in people’s homes: from light bulbs to plant waterers, music players to central-heating systems.” Some of you are probably asking: What is the worst thing a hacker can do by accessing my smart light bulb? Apart from the fact that they can take control of your electricity bill, the main issue is that hackers can gain access to more exclusive, private information. An article published by Quartz explains in detail the series of exploits that may follow when hackers take over your lightbulb. Since most smart living devices are controlled through apps on your phone, hackers may gain exposure to a whole realm of information simply by accessing your app’s settings. For example, they can start by getting ahold of your wifi password and then gradually advance to capture more sensitive information such as your credit card info after tracking your online shopping activity. These risks are especially heightened in today’s digital age where people do almost everything on the internet. The additional dangers that come with being hacked on devices that carry a more important role, such as a smart door lock, should also be weighed in to your conscience. Just imagine if someone has the control to unlock your door without your knowledge… 

Smart Living devices are presented as pristine, efficient, and “smart” features that can do nothing but improve the quality of life at home. Sure, these devices can be helpful and efficient to use, but there is always a possibility that they can do more harm than good. The message in this article does not promote the total eradication of smart living, but rather prompts buyers to think about how trading security with convenience may affect our lives. If you believe certain devices’ convenience outweighs its possible issues with security, at least you have acknowledged the risks that come with these smart living devices. However, if you simply buy into smart devices with the mentality that “it-probably-won’t-happen-to-me” or “who-would-want-to-target-me,” know that your device could even be used to attack third parties. Smart living… may not always be smart.

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