Is your home really safe with ‘smart’ home security?

Mobile apps represent the latest in smart home technology. Advanced home automation softwares have made it possible for you to turn lights and appliances on and off, control thermostats and perform other handy home functions from your mobile phone.

This capability has been extended to arming and disarming your security system, watching live security camera footage, even remotely locking and unlocking windows and doors while you’re away from home. The market for smart home security systems is growing, fast, but hackers have already started proving their inefficiency.

 

The rise of smart security

Because most homes are not so recently-built that they have smart security technology as standard, consumers are now ‘retrofitting’ their homes with these systems and products. In particular, voice-activated automation (best known through the rise in popularity of home assistants) and all-in-one home security systems that have taken centre stage in the last few years.

Systems such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Samsung’s Smart Things have all been hotly debated for the efficacy of their safety features. Developers of smart home technology are actively planning hackings in order to improve the data security of their future products. Although the technology is not entirely foolproof yet, improvements are being made at a remarkable rate.

Yet, for all the convenience of operating your systems remotely, there is no substitute for stronger locks, entry systems or shutters. Traditional security systems will keep your home and its contents safe, no matter what.

 

Keeping security simple…but smart

For centuries, the humble mechanical lock and key has reigned supreme in our domestic environment. But with the Internet Of Things giving consumers unprecedented power to reduce domestic drudgery and optimise their living environment, smart and automated door locks are one aspect of home security that could be the fastest-growing part of this burgeoning market.

However, the problem with smart locks like these is that, by its very nature, a smart lock has more potential points of failure than a simple mechanical one. Your home insurer might not even accept it as a method of securing your home, unless used in conjunction with a mortice deadlock—which sort of defeats the point. There is further concern over what to do in the event that your smartphone runs out of battery, or if your cellular network is inhibited.

If you’re looking to step up from from the standard lock and key, security professionals recommend audio and video intercom door entry systems to allow homeowners to “directly control” who gains access to their home. These systems offer a far lower risk of unauthorised entry compared to leaving your front door access key under the digital mat, where it can be picked up by malware or a phishing-style fraud.

 

Physical barriers remain important

We’ve all seen the graphics: smart home solutions envelop your home in a bubble of invisible protection that ebbs and flows as you ‘lock’ and ‘unlock’ your home, detecting changes in temperature and pressure from room to room. But no amount of authentication, encryption or cloud protection can make your windows any less breakable, or your doors less kickable.

Central locking systems, which use wireless and time-sensitive technology to secure all the ports of entry in your home,  certainly have their uses. However, as the saying goes, locks only keep out honest people. Security gates or shutters are likely to be the most effective solution when it comes to preventing a burglar entering your home.

 

Prevention is the priority

‘Smart’ video recording systems like the Nest indoor security camera claim to secure your home by sending alerts when they detect activity in your home, and capture footage of intruders. Some of these systems also include integrated microphones and speakers, which allow homeowners to challenge burglars in their home remotely.

But what these sorts of smart cameras fail to take into account is that the visible presence of CCTV systems is considered a deterrent in and of itself. From the moment a property is fitted with a security camera, it becomes a significantly less attractive target for criminals; CCTV can deter serious crimes from affecting your premises, including burglary, vandalism and arson.

Smart appliances are being tipped as bringing consumers the future…now, but it’s important to consider how the benefits of convenience and connectedness weigh up against tried, tested and practical home security solutions.

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