The world is turning smart and we often hear of smart this and smart that with many manufacturers making their devices so called smart.
Big security system manufacturers have followed the lead and have recently incorporated smarter, better connected technologies into their intruder security systems and harnessed the power of the 'Cloud' to allow alarm systems to be controlled using a smartphone app or the internet browser.
When looking to invest in a security system it is important to keep in mind how your system will remain up to date with changes in smart home technology, and most important who will be there to support you to keep your system up to update.
What is a ‘Smart Security System’?
In short, a smart security system is connected to the internet, usually via a large server known as a Cloud. This effectively allows for more intuitive, complex functions to be communicated between the security system and the cloud server. It also means that users can control and monitor their own home security remotely from an internet-connected device such as a smartphone or tablet, some smart security systems are even compatible with small cameras which can send a live video stream from within the home to the owner when triggered.
How safe are smart security systems?
As is the case with any technology powered primarily via an internet connection, hackers looking to access data are believed to be the biggest threat to smart security technology. Whilst this may seem scary, we must remember that this is also the case for any computer that is connected to the internet, and so smart devices may never be fully impervious to hackers and viruses. But that’s not to say they are unsafe. Just like your personal laptop, security risks can be controlled and minimised if precautions are taken and devices are used sensibly.
Many smart devices designed for DIY installation, will have no means to be upgraded or configured remotely, meaning the panel firmware cannot be up upgraded with the latest updates. Think of it as buying a computer and never being able to update / upgrade it or install patches to keep it secure.
Where is the server located that your smart device connects to?
This is one of the least considered questions, but one of the most important. Just think, you buy a new smart home device from a manufacturer you have never heard of, let's say a security camera. You attach it to your home network and hey presto it has access to the internet. However you have no idea:
- where the server is located that gathers data from the camera
- how secure is the camera
- is the camera running malware or other software to exploit your home network
- who has access to your data or images
- will the camera get updates and upgrades as new internet threats are uncovered
- will the smartphone app be updated
all you know is you can view the images on the camera through your smartphone.... but who else can view them, store them or sell them?
How to enjoy smart home security
Firstly think about your home network and work out from there.
Ensure you’re using strong passwords wherever you go on the web. These should be at least 8 characters long and be a mix of upper and lower case, numbers and special characters. Real words should not be used and the same password should not be used for more than one application or service. Obviously, remembering a randomly generated 12 character password is near impossible so consider using a password manager.
Enable device encryption on all of your devices – an encrypted device is far more secure than an unencrypted one. This can be something as simple as the PIN code on your phone, but when devices are encrypted, the only way to get into them is with that encryption key.
If you are using computers to connect to the internet, consider using VPN (Virtual Private Network) software to encrypt ALL your data transmissions so as to avoid eavesdropping or hijacking of your compuer connection or borwsing.
When it comes to security devices, it is very difficult to know if they use encryption, so it is recommended to only buy from reputable names. Don’t worry if you have a Bulldog Secure Alarm as the cloud your security system is connected to has been subject to a very complex form of encryption so that is one less thing to worry about.
There is no doubt that the future of the security system is in smart, internet connected technology. In the not-to-distant-future, security systems will do a lot more than just alert you to an intruder, with some security manufacturers looking to introduce home automation elements to their systems, transforming the traditional security system into a true hub of the modern home. It's exciting technology that will eventually improve the way we live, the great news is that it's actually affordable too - with DIY versions & more advanced, professional systems already available to buy (or in the case of the Bulldog Secure Alarm you get the best of both worlds).
Home security and keeping your 'life' secure through the cloud does not happen by accident.
Always buy from a reputable source and a reputable brand, so you can be sure that your system remains up to date and fully supported.
Before buying any smart device just ask yourself:
Where is my data being stored and who can access it?