Consumers Should Carefully Consider the Security Risks Accompanying Home Automation Solutions Built for Broadband Networks

If a report recently published by Infonetics Research, Infonetics: Over-the-Top Home Automation Services Gaining Popularity with Service Providers, on the condition of most of the market for home automation solutions, can be trusted as a reliable indicator of consumer interest in these services, then an inescapable conclusion is the market is red hot. “‘Our latest home automation study supports this trend: By 2015, the percentage of operators offering OTT home automation services more than doubles,’ Heynen reports. ‘With Verizon functioning as the guinea pig for out-of-market and over-the-top home automation services, other operators clearly believe these services can be delivered outside their incumbent markets.'” (quote is excerpted from the Businesswire Press Release, a link to which has been published earlier in this paragraph).

I should explain a couple of points about this press release.

  1. “Over the Top” refers to services offered ontop of another vendors services. In this instance, the Home Automation solutions operate over a broadband Ethernet network managed by a separate vendor.
  2. The home automation services, for the consumer, discussed in this article, operate with a thin client, meaning a web page browser, from any device capable of supporting browser clients. These devices include desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, smart phones and even game consoles (XBox/PlayStation/Nintendo)

I’m not sure the average consumer is aware of the risks accompanying use of these types of services. These are, indeed, serious risks, including, but not limited to malicious individuals accessing otherwise restricted information (for example, the geographical location of one’s home). Certainly all of these services are built for encrypted data communications sessions via browsers, but as the public has recently been informed, encryption standards are no longer impenetrable. Further, the recent exploit at Adobe Systems creates even a larger threat, as some of these services use flash for video. If the flash code has been compromised, there is little to say who may be able to access information.

The best vendors in this market can hope for is a slow moving public, likely too disinterested to take the time to research the risks. Nevertheless, any “horror stories” emerging from consumers purchasing these services will likely bring everyone up to speed on the risks yesterday

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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