Why Some May Want To Hold Off On The Smart Home

smart home insurance

Photo from Robert Basic

The smart home is a new phenomenon in which you utilize specialty devices — generally attached to a control app on your smartphone — to take care of basic functions of your house. Instead of using the standard metal key to get in to your deadbolt, you dial up a command on the mobile app. Instead of getting up to turn the lights out before going to bed, you set a timer (or go back to said application). Instead of getting up to adjust the thermostat, you do it all from the comfort of your easy chair.

While it may seem super-cool to be the first adopter of these advanced technologies, it can also be problematic and pose some serious security risks, such as the following:

 

Unlawful Entry Into Your Home

One of the big problems with smart home technologies is how easily hackable they are by those who know what they’re doing. Since many of these applications connect to your home WiFi, hackers have a “way in” to your life. As a result, that smart lock you installed can be unlocked without the hacker ever having to get out of their car and jimmy the lock. This effectively eliminates the risk that they will be spotted by a watchful neighbor or landlord. They can park across the street, unlock your home, walk in and take whatever they want.

 

Violation Of Privacy

In a recent Yahoo! article on the subject, the case of a Cincinnati couple was shared in terrifying detail. From the website: “Earlier this year, a Cincinnati couple, Adam and Heather Schreck, were horrified when they heard a hacker shouting, ‘Wake up, baby!’ at their 10-month old daughter, through a Foscam monitoring device they had set up in the baby’s room. The hacker could even swivel the camera back and forth to follow whatever interested him. Like many smart-home gizmos, the Schreck’s baby monitor was synced with their home WiFi network, so the parents could check on the child over the Internet via a smartphone or remote computer.” Technology has added many conveniences, but it’s also opened up some doors to the outside world that anyone would rather keep closed.

 

Malfunctions

No piece of technology is perfect. With smart home tech, if something goes wrong, you may not have any manual recourse. This happened to us recently with my wife’s car. The door to her gas tank could only be opened from a button in the car. When that function gave out, we had to take it to a mechanic and pay more than $100 just for the privilege of filling up with gas. (Thanks, Volkswagen.) Apply this to the world of the smart home, and we can definitely see a day where you’re spending the night outside or busting a window because your smart lock system malfunctioned.

 

Why It’s Good To Stay “Dumb”

The above scenarios are all realistic, especially since many of these smart home technologies are in their infancy and still packed with plenty of kinks that leave them vulnerable to hackers. Furthermore, smart home tech may be collecting more personal information than you feel comfortable giving out. They root in to your life in ways that few products ever have, down to a behind-closed-doors behavioral level. While the security issues will continue to improve in the years ahead, data collection will probably always be an issue for those of you reluctant to share.

 

In Summary

Simplicity may not always be your most convenient recourse, but it’s tried and true, and it can keep your home safe from new threats that could lead to homeowners insurance claims. Before you take that next step into the digital age and allow tech to start controlling the way you live, examine the furthest reaching repercussions and make a knowledgeable choice based on what you’re comfortable sharing. Would you (or have you) started to incorporate smart home technologies where you live? What has your experience been thus far? Share your stories in our comments section.

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