UK Consumers Unimpressed With Smart Home Security
The rise of smart software
From central heating and light sockets switched on by a swipe of an iPhone, to robotic PA’s named Alexa and front doors which open only by facial recognition; it’s safe to say we have the power to turn our average home into something smarter.
Just last year, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide; a 64% increase from 2015, per IHS Markit. Information Age suggests that, by 2020, the number of smart devices in people’s homes will more than double. Certainly, as growth continues and brands adapt and develop their smart devices for universal appeal: it seems the possibilities are endless.
IHS Markit proposes the way to embrace the smart home is by lowering prices, educating consumers on the use and benefits of different products and – most importantly – enhancing security. In doing so, it is predicated that by the end of 2017, up to 130 million smart home devices stand to be shipped worldwide; an increase of 50 million in just one year.
The smart home
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There are now more than 4 million smart homes in the UK. In terms of security, the combination of smart technology and home alarm systems offers a high level of automation that is easy to use and, once installed, easy to maintain. The integration also offers homeowners the ability to check on the security of their property through various mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.
There’s no doubt about it – it’s certainly convenient. In fact, as smart home security can be actively managed remotely; homeowners can take full control all day, every day, in any location. What’s more, a recent survey claimed 60% of burglars avoid homes with technical, smart home security – so a smart home modification can only be beneficial to the protection of your home, right? However, it does beg the question; if homeowners can easily access their home with the use of technology at any given moment, – who else can?
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Using a smart device regularly and extensively, particularly in the home, can leave your personal details – such as financial information – exposed. Considering you enter your login details on a regular basis, it’s easy to forget that even the most resilient device can be manipulated by those who know how. In fact, per gov.uk’s recent release ‘Crime Survey for England and Wales’, in 2015-16 there were 642,000 accounts of unauthorised access (hacking) to personal information, reported.
In support of this, David Jacoby, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, warns that many smart home products on the market today are “severely lacking” in proper security protection, leaving your home prone to an attack from criminals. David Emm, security expert at Kaspersky adds: “Unlike traditional laptops and computers, which are usually protected with encrypted passwords, many passwords for smart devices are generic and non-encrypted; meaning they are much weaker” – and far easier to access.
Undeniably, a rise in smart software is certainly conceivable, and imminent in the modern age we live in, yet it does appear that the British public are sceptical about its use. Considering 66% of UK consumers agree that a smart home is a very appealing concept – a further 44% state they do not trust it; nor would install it in their family home. Because, whilst smart technology may appear to make our homes – and lives – more manageable; it can also make our homes more vulnerable.
A consumer’s view
However, despite fair warning and self-proclaimed suspicion of smart technologies: it seems the public do not consider smart home security to be a particularly high concern. Rather, concern circulates around the cost of a product and an awareness of what to use and how to use it. Duly, Locksmithservice.co.uk decided to analyse consumer responses to find out exactly how they feel about smart devices in the home.
Interestingly, when asked what they felt the key barrier was, as to whether smart home technology should be adopted, most consumers responded with: ‘the cost to purchase’ (36%.) Worryingly, a lack of personal privacy had a far lower percentage (22%) and even lower for a potential security threat to the home (16%.)
Certainly, low security responses could signify that consumers do not take the risk of smart devices seriously. Yet, it may also signify that consumers are simply in favour of traditional, authentic security and believe this to be all that is needed to safeguard the home.
Victor Baron, MD of Locksmith Service adds: “Whilst smart home technology is innovative, and supremely efficient; it is also exposing in the broadest sense. Before investing in any smart device, consumers must take time to consider what they are buying and if they truly need it.
It may be that a security bolt, lock change and installation or even a free security check is all that you need to put your mind – and home – at rest. All of which can be provided by a traditional locksmith; without leaving your home compromised or exposed.”
Fittingly, data from Deloitte’s, ‘Mobile Consumer Survey, 2016’ suggests consumers prefer to invest in connected entertainment and connected-self products – rather than the idea of a connected home.
Certainly, we can see that in the past year, consumers have invested heavily in connected entertainment devices, such as smart TVs (28%) or games consoles (26%) – a device that is now owned by one quarter of UK adults. What is more, as of mid-2016, almost half of UK adults had access to at least one type of connected entertainment product. Comparably, failing to impress consumers, connected-self items like fitness bands (9%) and smart watches (4%), seem to disappear in popularity as soon as they fall out of fashion.
Even less of a priority are surveillance security systems at just 3%, and additions like smart home appliances and smart lighting systems lowest at 2%; implying it is just too early for UK consumers to feel inspired by some smart technologies.
Indeed, if production and shipment is due to increase as much – and as quickly – as it is predicted: it may only be a matter of time. Nevertheless, it is crucial to bear personal safety, and security of the home, in mind. If, or when, you do opt to invest in something smart for the home; make sure to follow recommended safety tips, such as those listed below.
Smart software safety tips
- Passwords are critical. The most important thing you can do for your smart home device (and your network in general) is to change the default password immediately. Always try to use unique passwords, which are not obvious or connected to any of your identifiable information, such as birthdays or pet names, and never use the same password for every device.
- Set your device to update automatically. If you do this, you will ensure to get updates the moment companies release them; safeguarding the security on your device and preventing unwanted exposure.
- Make sure to enable the firewall on your router.
- You may want to consider setting up a separate network for your smart device, keeping your main computer (where you do your banking and other sensitive activities) off it.