"My house was hacked!"
Had you said this 25 years ago, people would have thought a burglar vandalized it with an axe. Say it today and nearly everybody will know what you mean: A thief or prankster "broke" in to your house via its connected-to-the-Internet gadgets.
If something's connected, like your refrigerator, the possibility of hacking exists. All of these smarthome gadgets make it to market without a lot of attention on security, leaving them with "back doors" through which hackers could enter. This creates a larger "surface area" for potential cyber invasions.
In January 2014, connected refrigerators were actually sending out spam e-mails. So don't think that all of this is just hyped up anxiety. And unless you've been living in a cave, you've already heard about the man who hacked into a baby monitor and yelled obscenities through it. A hacker could infiltrate through any vulnerable device in your house and use it as a launching pad to get into your e-mail account and redirect your web traffic to them.
Though nothing is ever 100 percent secure, the issue boils down to how important it is for you to control your home's thermostat or coffee pot while you're away, which means adding one more "smart" thing to your house, increasing its surface area of potential attack.
Smart gadgets are especially vulnerable to attack because they may not be replaced for many years, such as a smart washing machine. This means the appliance or device needs to have a long-term ability to receive security updates.
To combat security threats, makers of smart gadgets and appliances need to have security in mind from the beginning of manufacturing. They need to set up a monitoring system for these products for as long as they are in use, so that the smart washer is just as protected in its 15th year of use by the homeowner as it is in its first year.
Though the smart coffee pot may come across as a status symbol of a tech-savvy person with money to burn, some smart devices can save money such as a system that monitors water usage and can even identify which pipe has a leak.
The homeowner has to do a risk/benefit analysis and just perhaps forego the coffee pot and the smart egg container that tells you when you're down to your last few eggs. To check if your kids are sleeping you may just have to do it the old-fashioned way: walking to their bedroom and peeking in.
When making an investment in smarthome devices make sure to check out the reviews, do your research to see if anyone has experienced security issues. And make sure to update any software of firmware over the lifespan of the device.