IoT in the Smart Home: Challenges and Solution

Only five years ago there was a breeze of IoT everywhere, and people were talking about vision 2020 where 20 billion IoT devices would be online. Now in 2019, we are close to that reality, and IoT is rapidly evolving into the atmosphere in various fields. All the tech giants are now considering the IoT as it finds a lot of applications in smart homes, vehicular networks, healthcare, big data, etc.

A recent survey in the US shows more than 50% population willing to spend $500 on smart home devices and appliances. IoT is most widely deployed in smart homes to automate various home tasks. These smart homes devices are transforming TV, refrigerators, doors, and that makes life easier for the residents. This also allows business to offer IoT devices and services to their customers.

Threats to smart home IoT

While IoT promises a lot of convenience for the end-users as apparent in the smart homes, the security and privacy issues are growing concerns because not much work is done in this regard, talking about security by design. From WannaCry incident it is apparent that IoT devices are an open opportunity for hackers to launch excessive attacks and undermine a lot of commercially available devices such as Belkin WeMo motion sensor, Nest Smoke Alarms, Withings Smart Body Analyzer lack security features to prevent the device against any malicious users. Security researchers have analyzed the devices in great depth and found them vulnerable to various security threats. These devices communicate in plain-text, which can be eavesdrop by a malicious entity. In addition to security, privacy issues are also apparent. These sensors, used in abundance have a lot of personal information that an attacker can use to track, as found by researchers in the widely used motion sensors. These issues will continue to persist and demand attention and awareness from technology innovators and consumers.

Solutions

There is no single plug that you turn on, and your IoT devices get secured. However, there are some available solutions which the consumers can adapt to maximize security. On the other side, the research community, technical community and business need to work together to enhance device security.

Consumers should follow these 3 common steps to secure their Home IoT Devices.

1.    Make sure the devices are protected with a strong password. Learn about the security features your devices provide and turn them on.

2.    Make sure that the devices are tuned to automatic updates. Often consumers turn this off to make their device work faster.

3.    Your home router is the main gateway to the outside insecure internet. Make sure you have proper Wi-Fi setting, encryption setting and non-default passwords checked.

Novel Long-term solutions

In the long term, upcoming technologies have great potential to enable security and privacy in IoT devices. Various research is underway to use SDN to provide security as a Service for smart home IoT device. Another approach is following blockchain-based architecture to enhance the privacy and security of the IoT devices through a low scale instantiation of the blockchain.

IoT has numerous applications in next-generation evolution. Its success coinsides with protective measures embedded in the technology to meet the future challenges of security and privacy.

Abdul Saboor Malik

Internet Governance Activist | Information Security Expert | CyberSecurity Blogger | Digital Grassroot Ambassador
Abdul Saboor Malik

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