While driving 70 mph on the highway in a Jeep Cherokee, Andy Greenberg was suddenly bombarded with frigid air blasting from the AC, hip-hop music blaring from the speakers and his wipers and washer fluid compromising his visibility.
This was, of course, a purposeful act he staged to showcase how easy it is to hack into a car that’s connected via the Internet of Things (IoT).
The article immediately went viral, revealing to a world hungry to be more connected just how dangerous it can be.
“It was scary to see, for sure,” says Stephen Kromer, key principle/minority owner at Kromer Investments, regarding the Jeep Cherokee hack.
What does this mean for smart home builders?
Interest in IoT tech is growing exponentially in many markets and the smart home industry is no exception.
With thermostats, refrigerators, locks, cameras and more geared up for a universal connection, the question remains whether this boom in smart home tech is too much, too soon when you consider security.
“When it comes to the security of these devices, we should always be placing an emphasis on safety over convenience,” says Kromer, adding that some companies are bringing products to market that may not be fully secure.
An exception to this would be Apple, which has made recent headlines because of the delayed release of HomeKit—its IoT home automation platform. The company has garnered some protest for its nitpicky notions toward securing its product’s IoT connectivity, but according to Kromer, Apple is acting with the best interest of builders and consumers in mind.
Wi-Fi versus Bluetooth Connectivity
Currently, companies are approaching varied tactics for how to connect to IoT tech.
Many favor a Wi-Fi-based Internet of Things, while other companies are exploring the potential of Bluetooth connectivity, such as Apple, which is a probable cause for HomeKit’s delayed release.
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Bluetooth is newer and presents great potential, but it raises similar safety concerns to Wi-Fi. Both connection methods still lack the proper security standards, and this is where the main problem exists.
“Wi-Fi is just so familiar and more available,” says Kromer.
Precautions and Principles
For now, Kromer believes that “vandalism” is the biggest concern for builders when it comes to securing their smart home products.
The last thing they want is angry customers calling them up because a hacker broke into their automated fridge and spoiled all their food or hacked their heating system, transforming their home into an igloo.
“In terms of privacy, the most vulnerable things are our computers and smart phones,” says Kromer. “And those have been connected far longer than anything in home automation.”
So what is the solution?
To put his customers’ minds at ease, Kromer plans to address all these concerns while moving forward with projects that include IoT home automation.
His methods would include constantly monitoring the traffic on a network, choosing the right providers and technicians, as well as adding positions specifically tailored towards IoT security—such as an IT security specialist.
He also agrees that there should be some sort of general cyber security rule to make sure his customers’ devices are safe from hackers. “I’m not quite the fan of regulations,” says Kromer, “but there should certainly be an industry standard.”