McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law

by Mark Bello

In 1962, The Jetsons promised a future that’s almost technologically unimaginable today. In fact, many of the ideas were nearly laughable. There were no personal computers, no cell phones, no smartwatches, and no Internet. Though we may not be flying around in cars which fit into our briefcase and the table doesn’t set itself, many predictions are now a part of our everyday use.

Home automation is “The Internet of Things”—the way that all of our devices and appliances will be networked together to provide us with a seamless control over all aspects of our home and more. Although it has been around for many decades in terms of lighting and simple appliance control, only recently has inter-connected technology caught up, allowing full control of your home from anywhere, at any time. With home automation, you dictate how a device should react, when it should react, and why it should react. Everything is automated and based off of your personal preferences thus providing convenience, control, money savings, and an overall smarter home.

Did you forget to turn off the lights or the coffee pot? Home automation allows you to shut them off with just the touch of a finger on your mobile app. Do you want to know if your home has a water leak while you are away on vacation? Customizable alerts on your mobile phone or computer can notify you if something happens at home, including an intruder or a frozen pipe that explodes. Did you forget to set the security system before leaving for work? No problem.

With home automation, you can set it from afar through your smartphone or an Internet-connected PC. Smart locks can send you an alert each time the door is unlocked or opened. They can be checked remotely and locked if you forgot to do so when you left for work. If you are home alone and hear a noise outside, you can quickly lock all the doors without having to run around the house checking each door individually. Cameras can track your home’s exterior. Basically, any device in your home that uses electricity can be put on your home network and at your command. They can even be connected to communicate with each other. At any time, you can change the settings simply by pushing a button on your smartphone or computer.

This ability to control home safety from near or far creates a sense of security that is hard to come by. But, while more and more appliances and gadgets are making it easier than ever for us to monitor, protect, and automate our homes, privacy and safety are sometimes overlooked. It is no secret that hackers can breach defenses and exploit weaknesses in computer systems and networks. Yet, many consumers are unaware of the risks or simply ignore them, leaving their home devices particularly susceptible to attack. Without the proper security measures in place, criminals can infiltrate your network, steal your information, learn about your habits, know when you aren’t home, and find flaws in your security system. The more smart devices in your home, the more opportunity for a security breach. Therefore, it is important that consumers remain vigilant and take the appropriate steps to protect their digital lives.

Here are some mostly simple steps to ensure your smart home is a safe home:

  • Hire a professional to install your system to ensure the safest possible setup. Protecting your home from a virtual invasion takes knowledge, skill and the right hardware.
  • All home and mobile devices, including your Wi-Fi network, should be password protected.»Make secure passwords. Passwords that are unique to each device, account or online service go a long way in terms of security measures.
  • Avoid connecting devices to unreliable networks, and restrict access of unauthorized devices.
  • Some cybersecurity experts recommend multiple networks in a home with multiple “smart” devices, so that you can separate computers and phones from an alarm or entertainment system.
  • Use only sites with an ‘https’ at the beginning of its URL, which indicates that the site is using encryption to protect your information.
  • Mobile devices are the weakest link. Pin protect your phone and install security software just as you would on your main computer.

While smart homes open up a whole new world of convenience in our hectic lives, taking such preventative measures can help mitigate the risks of both physical burglaries and virtual theft and ensure that the your home is truly a safe haven.

© 2014
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