The Problem with common smart home systems


Imagine your life as the average smart home developers have conceptualised it.

You come home at the end of a long workday, and your home is only a few meters away. Your front door automatically opens thanks to face and iris recognition software. Your house is already hyper-heated to the precise temperature you have always known and loved. 
The light in the hallway is slightly dimmed as your favourite music plays as quietly or as loudly you like it. In the kitchen, you kettle has just switched itself on as you step into the smart home of your dreams.

Smart homes seem to make life much more pleasant and more relaxed. They smooth out all these little everyday routines as they’re now either automated or can be easily controlled by your smartphone.

However, the scenario just described is often entirely different. You approach the front door, but nothing happens at all. The perfect face and iris recognition software you were sold seems to have forgotten how to recognise you!

Of course, you knew that this could happen in certain circumstances, so you reach into your pocket to grab your old house keys. You open the front door to enter the unusally dark house you used to call home. It’s freezing cold. The central heating system that was supposed to start automatically two hours before your arrival is off.

A few moments later, the smart alarm sounds. Usually, it should detect the presence of your smartphone and then automatically switch itself off. You finally experience relief. “At least one thing seems to work as usual”, you say to yourself. The television is already switched on, but instead of your favourite evening program, you watch a live feed of yourself from the camera in the ceiling. In the background, you can already see the sirens of the fire brigade, which seems to be approaching your house.

What on earth happened?

Your smart home has been hacked, and all the data that makes up your life has fallen in the hands of criminal hackers!

The Internet of Things (IoT) will power the age of the smart home. According to the international consultancy Oliver Wyman, in the next four years, every other household appliance will be connected to the internet. Over the same period, there will be more IoT devices than smartphones.

Change is exciting, but it brings new dangers. And when it comes to smart homes, the security risk is simply too widespread to ignore. 
8 out of 10 IoT devices are vulnerable to hacking.

From phones and TVs to routers and consoles, all these machines are connected to the internet.

All it takes is one unprotected device to compromise the security of your smart home. Hackers only need to find that one breaking point to bring down your whole network.

The problem is that, in a rush to profit from an exciting new market, most manufacturers have neglected necessary security protocols. They have favoured their own short-term gain over the privacy and security of their long-term customers.

These companies focus on selling all the imagined benefits of the convenient comforts of technology without ensuring their products aren’t exposing their users’ networks. Their short-term thinking drives them to cast away the most fundamental security standards.

A criminal’s paradise.

As a result, separate devices don’t communicate with each other, giving the prospective hackers yet another advantage they won’t refuse to use.

With more and more people craving the comforts of the smart home, the odds are stacked in the criminals’ favour. A growing market, rapidly swelling in the number of users who each bringing multiple vulnerable targets. On top of that, the average home network can be hacked in less than a minute. What more could a digital outlaw want?

It is the perfect storm of greed and incompetence. While all those companies watch their bank accounts grow, your personal private information is now exposed. The bitter truth is that, as it stands, the vast majority of home networks are easy prey for hackers everywhere.

How can my information be exposed?

The smart home industry is set to take over the world. If regular citizens don’t take the necessary precautions, the rise of IoT networked homes will give hackers all over the world unlimited access to your valuable data.

Once your information is compromised, your life is in the hands of criminals. How much would you be willing to pay to retrieve those private photos, sensitive financial data, and valuable secrets those hackers now control? Whatever that limit is, they will make you pay.

As innovative criminals target a rising number of vulnerable devices, how can we protect the smart homes of the future with the technology of the present?

That is the question Vecap set out to answer. 
We are happy to say we have found the solution.