In the old days we had fences, and the rich had armed guards. Then came home alarms. ADT started around 1869-70. Alarms would sound, but only those in earshot were notified. Then they connected these alarm systems to a central location by telegraph (yes, telegraph) to coordinate a response. That home security model created in the late 1800’s hasn’t actually changed much.
Then came cyber. Think about the change in our homes from the physical to the cyber. In the old days you could protect your family, privacy, and your belongings with fences, locks, window blinds, Neighborhood Watch, and an alarm system. Gates and guards don’t cut it anymore.
Today we have Internet-connected alarm systems that allow you to hear the doorbell even when you’re not home. You can now see who’s at the door and talk to them from a remote location.
There are proximity locks that will unlock as you approach the door with the key fob in your pocket. You can turn on your lights with your phone from anywhere in the world.
Our TVs and entertainment systems are now connected to the Internet. We can play video games with strangers from around the world. These systems have cameras and microphones and can now eavesdrop on your private conversations and interactions at home.
Now we’re being introduced to a myriad of smart, connected appliances:
- HVAC thermostat – Set your temperature by time or as you desire from your cell phone.
- Refrigerator – Have cameras so you can see what you need to purchase while walking down the aisle of the grocery store.
- Stove/oven – Start your dinner by setting the temperature and timer remotely.
- Lights – Control your lights from your car or from anywhere.
- Microwave – Start defrosting your dinner on the way home.
- Washer and dryer – Controlled remotely. Why? I have no idea!
- TVs and DVRs – Record your favorite shows or news program.
- Home audio systems – Turn on your audio system to keep your pets company.
- Dishwasher – Why would you even need this to be a connected appliance?
- Irrigation system – During a trip away from home, turn off your automatic irrigation system on a rainy day.
- Sprinkler fire suppression system – Monitor your system.
- Electric power monitoring system – Turn devices off remotely to save money.
- Pet feeder – Determine how much and when to feed your pet.
- Baby monitors – Check on your baby while you’re at work.
- Nanny cams – Watch your nanny while your child is being taken care of.
- Video games – Cameras and microphones on TVs and game consoles.
- Alexa & Siri-type devices – They listen to everything you say.
- Personal finance tracking – Monitor your credit cards and protect from identity theft.
Now add in your home network(s) of desktops, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices. Wireless networks, firewalls, malware software, etc. All of these devices and systems are vulnerable and have been exploited. These systems may not be integrated today. And it takes an engineering degree to set them all up properly.
I coach high school baseball. The other day one of my players was telling me how much smarter his generation was than mine. I asked him why he thought that. He said, “Coach, our generation uses so many different apps and technologies that you haven’t even heard of.” Unfortunately, all generations have a problem differentiating between users and developers. The world is a user, but few know the risks embedded and the proper installation for providing safety, security, and privacy.
I think the time has come for an integrated cybersecurity business model that integrates, monitors, as well as educates the owners on the use and security of all these smart devices. We must combine what’s already out there into one integrated home cybersecurity package with one monthly bill.
These services need to be inexpensive. Traditional alarm systems run between $25-$45 per month. There are companies that monitor your finances and privacy for $10-$15 per month. When you purchase a computer or laptop, the Tech Squads set it up for a fee of $140/hour on-site and around $50/hour remotely.
How much do you think it would cost to have an expert come out to set up all of your home security connected services? Would you pay a monthly fee for this sort of holistic home security monitoring for your family’s safety, security, and privacy?
Take my start-up idea for free! I think it’s about time we saw a service like this.
Jim Christy is VP of Investigations and Digital Forensics at Cymmetria. Jim retired from the U.S. government in 2013, ending a career investigating computer crimes and running digital forensics labs that began in 1986 at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Jim can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with Jim on Twitter: @jimchristyusdfc