In 10 years’ time smart homes will have become a reality for the average homeowner in most countries of the world. The connected home of the near future will see cameras, HVAC, cars, TVs, power meters and refrigerators become smart devices. Smartphone dominance, the decline in chipset prices, embedded wireless networks and increasing connection speeds are already making that technology readily available to the consumer.

But while Internet-connected devices come with many benefits, even for home security, it also opens properties to a new level of vulnerability targeted by cyber criminals. In the ultimate connected home scenario, most home appliances, utilities and services will communicate. As our homes become increasingly connected, we are opening the spectrum of opportunities to mess with our lives to enemies in different shapes and sizes:  companies seeking to capitalize our data without permission, an angry ex-spouse, cyber vandals, a stalker, and frauds.

Stories containing offenses such as gaining control over the devices in a stranger’s house, disabling security locks or causing mini-power outages, car crashes induced by vehicles infected with malware, and even death induced by a cyber-attack on a pacemaker may become common crimes in the future.

Up to now, security risks to our private files and credit cards involved violations of security using computers interconnected across networks. Since computers are under human control, it used to be easier for us to notice violations. It is much harder to say though what wireless devices are up to, and if the data they generate is drifting somewhere else apart from their artificial little brains.

Even though security and privacy issues are becoming the Achilles heel of the connected home, the majority of vendors still do not give it much importance, putting business considerations such as convenience, ease of use, price and time-to-market first. In fact, plenty of internet-connected devices flooding the market are less secure than a laptop or smartphone.

It is important for vendors to keep in mind that the journey towards smart and connected homes depends heavily on the acceptance of end users. So addressing these issues is a crucial factor for market participants to gain customer trust products and speed smart homes adoption.

Security standards in connected devices are still a work in progress; consumers may still face these vulnerabilities. As the use of connected devices expands, so will customer awareness of the need to demand safer solutions. What now is a differentiating feature for vendors will become a minimum requirement in future.

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