Smart Home technology is becoming an increasingly common thing in the day-to-day lifestyle of Texas homeowners. There are quite a few Smart Homes in the Austin and Lakeway area real estate market. Smart thermostats are very popular in the Texas Hill Country as they take away the need to adjust the temperature and can be programmed to do so while you are away in addition to giving the homeowner the ability to reset it from their phone. There are many other smart technology features from window shades to home security systems as well as pet monitoring and feeding products.
Artificial intelligence can keep our home running smoothly, even when we are away. With the click of a button or a voice command, lights can be turned on and off, groceries and household supplies can be ordered, and many menial tasks can be programmed and forgotten about by the homeowner. The convenience and efficiency that this technology brings to our lives is very attractive, but as with all things it is a good idea to be an informed consumer when using any product that uses personal information.
Any time a person uses the internet, they are putting their privacy at risk, especially if they do not use the proper precautions. Keeping up with information and updates regarding the devices in your home will allow you to be informed when there are glitches that can leave you vulnerable to hacking. There have been several instances where researchers have found vulnerabilities in smart technology items as well as real life experiences from the users of these items.
A researcher with the Tripwire Security firm named Craig Young discovered a privacy issue with Google home and Chromecast. It was found this technology leaks location information. This occurs when attackers send a link in an advertisement or tweet to the connected user. If the user clicks on the link and leaves the page open for at least a minute the hacker is able to obtain their exact location.
Wired Magazine published the story a security researcher named Mark Barnes with MWR labs. Mr. Barnes installed malware on an Amazon Echo speaker and was able to create a surveillance device that streamed audio to his server. The newer models of the Echo cannot be hacked in this way but Amazon has not created any software to prevent this from occurring with its older units.
A resident of Portland Oregon received a phone call from one of her husband's employers advising her to shut off her smart home devices. The woman's home used Amazon devices throughout to control lighting, security and temperature. she was informed that a very private conversation had been recorded by Amazon Alexa, the home’s artificial intelligence system, and was then sent to a number on the family’s contact list.
Because of the potential harm that can happen with glitches in smart technology, Texas homeowners should research the products we are buying and installing in our homes. We should understand the capabilities of the devices we install and be sure to use the appropriate security settings.