For those of us old enough to remember the cartoon, I’m willing to bet that at least a few of us are still holding out hope for a Jetson’s future, complete with personal jetpacks, flying cars and fully automated homes. We’re getting closer on the car and jetpack thing, but it seems we have some way to go on the home automation, despite it being around in some form for decades now. Samsung’s SmartThings platform has been around for a few years now and the continuing permeation of mobile devices across all aspects of our daily lives has led to some amazingly convenient but woefully insecure home automation systems. Researchers at University of Michigan have demonstrated several security vulnerabilities in internet-connected door locks, fire alarms and lighting systems to name a few. At the moment, using the Internet of Things to upgrade your home may actually downgrade your security.
What this means for you:
Despite the technology being available for several years, most Americans have only just begun to discover a small glimmer of a Jetson-esque future. This is due to a combination of factors that include price, complexity and a (justifiable) lack of trust in remote control devices to secure their most prized (and pricey) investments. Even Silicon Valley darling Nest (now owned by Alphabet née Google) suffered multiple PR setbacks via highly-publicized bugs, failed hardware and canceled products. As such, these products and others like Samsung’s SmartThings are only just starting to realize enough critical mass in the market to capture the attention of security researchers. For now, the University of Michigan researchers are cautioning against using the SmartThings platform wherever security is a paramount concern. I don’t know about you, but as far as this homeowner and business-owner is concerned, my house and office can stay dumb for the moment. I already have problems with phones that are too smart for their own good.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Confirming something that many of us already suspected, Twitter has revealed in its most recent SEC filing that almost 9% of all Twitter accounts aren’t used by actual humans. Given the social media’s 271 million accounts, that’s nearly 23 million Tweeters posting content at the behest of some form of automation or algorithm.