Tuesday, April 23
01:02 PM

Do our smart home devices spy on us?

24 May 2023

It’s amazing that smart home devices have been benefitting us and making it so much easier for us to control our home from many different aspects! A few examples of these smart home devices (or IoT devices) at my home are our security cameras, our water heater, and our smart locks. And what amazed me is that my father can access, control and monitor our smart home devices from wherever he is in the world! However, I had always wondered if these devices are capable of stealing data on what we do in our daily lives. Do all the benefits we receive from our smart home devices come at the cost of our privacy?

In simplified words, a smart home device is an Internet of Things (IoT) device that has the capability of enhancing and simplifying the way we monitor and control our home. They’re usually accessible through various smartphone apps developed for the specific smart device. A few examples on how our smart home devices benefit us are: Smart cameras and motion sensors give us security by monitoring what happens in a house, thermostats give us comfort by allowing us to adjust the temperature in our homes, and smart coffee machines give us that necessary shot of caffeine every morning! It’s pretty obvious that owning a few smart home devices are somewhat a necessity for us in today’s world of technology!

However, concerns have been on the rise about how these devices could potentially be invading our privacy, and the facts support this claim. Firstly, since these devices are connected to the Internet, if a malicious hacker gained unauthorised access to our network and found any out-of-date software with vulnerabilities on any of our devices, they could hack the devices and receive a lot of personal information about us like our names, phone numbers, passwords, emails, and payment card information. And even worse, if they got access to our smart cameras, they could monitor each and every move we and our family make around our home without your consent. Smart home devices also monitor and track our activities daily, for example when we leave and enter home, when we sleep and wake up, and how often e use certain devices. Companies could use this information and sell them to third-party advertisers worldwide.

So, with all the threats I’ve mentioned, how can we protect ourselves and still make best of our smart home devices? I’ll give you some reliable ways to protect your devices from threats so that you don’t fall victim to any of them. Firstly, ensure that all your devices are updated regularly to the latest software, as companies release these updates to patch security issues like bugs and vulnerabilities. You should also read reviews online on the device you’re planning to purchase, and always purchase your devices from trusted, reputable brands and not from any shady businesses. You should also always make sure that your network is secured to the maximum. Use the highest wireless network security encryption protocols (WPA2 and WPA3), create difficult to crack passwords with numbers and special characters, and ensure your router’s firmware is always up-to-date.

In conclusion, smart devices help us facilitate the way we monitor our home, and they are in fact very beneficial to us as long as we protect them and secure them in the right way to not expose our private information. I hope you benefitted from this article and I can’t wait for you to see what’s coming in the next!

(Writer Hilal Tariq Al Barwani is a young computer enthusiast who enjoys writing and speaking on computers and technology)

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