IT security: put an end to the illusion of the smart home – economy

IT security: put an end to the illusion of the smart home – economy


In theory, a fully automated home sounds tempting. Shortly before you wake up, the sleep sensor switches on the coffee machine, which brews espresso. The washing machine knows the price of electricity and starts at night when it is cheapest. When you leave the house, the door locks and the lights go out. Do you need that? No. Is that practical? Yes.

Unfortunately there is a gap Smart home Theory and practice are far apart. On the one hand, automation rarely works as expected. In the morning it’s not the coffee machine that goes on, but the alarm system. There are a lot of different protocols and standards, devices lose connection, and you lose patience. The illusion of making work easier ends in an orgy of restarts and curses.

On the other hand, the smart home can not only be annoying, but also dangerous. An actual Research the South German newspaper disclosedthat many connected devices harbor massive security gaps. In the so-called Internet of Things, solar systems, cameras and garage doors are supposed to communicate with each other – in fact, strangers can often listen in and access data.

In this case, the gaps were noticed by well-meaning security researchers and reporters. However, insecure devices can also give criminal hackers access to your own surveillance camera recordings. The danger has been known for years. The SZ already conducted research in 2016 on the Internet of Things for months and spoke to people unknowingly baring half her life.

The smarter, the more dependent

Since then the problem has worsened. Companies advertise smart devices and neglect security. This often affects manufacturers from the Far East, but not only. Stored data is inadequately encrypted or not encrypted at all, interfaces become weak points, and the router becomes a gateway for criminals.

The smarter your home becomes, the more dependent you become on companies. You should think carefully about this, and not just for security reasons. A stupid light switch turns the bulb on and off, today and in ten years. A key locks the door, even if the manufacturer goes bankrupt, the server fails or a firmware update goes wrong.

As soon as software runs in the background, a predetermined breaking point is added. 7,000 lights burned in a school in the USA for a year and a half, because an update went wrong. As the company Insteon stopped their service, customers were suddenly left with useless thermostats, sensors and sockets. Osram made networked lights stupid with an updateBelkin transformed functional security cameras intentionally in electronic waste. Lockstate blocked users of the smart security locks with a faulty update. The smart home platform Wink initially demanded money for basic control functions and then disappeared completely.

It’s time for regulation

Networking household appliances is not a stupid idea per se. Some functions are pleasant, others help save energy. So far, the smart home requires technical expertise or trust. Either you create your own solution, or you have to believe manufacturers that their products are safe – and will still work in five years.

In other words: responsibility is shifted to customers and consumers. It can’t stay that way. There are seals and testing procedures for analog products for good reason. Cars must be sold with seat belts, toasters must not burst into flames, baby bottles must not release plasticizers. Such regulations are largely missing in the digital space.

The EU Commission wants to change that with the Cyber ​​Resilience Act. Among other things, the regulation is intended to prevent manufacturers from selling unsafe networked devices. The approach makes sense, but the implementation is like the smart home: the theory differs from the practice. It will take years until all the details have been worked out, the law has been passed and the transition periods have passed. Until then: keep your eyes open when buying a smart home.



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