This is how data security works in a smart home

This is how data security works in a smart home
Smart system

In the case of good smart home products and systems, it is possible to check and set which data can be transmitted to the manufacturer, for example. Photo: Florian Shuh / DPA-TMN

(Photo: dpa)

But with networking, the flow of data also increases and many consumers are asking themselves which route the data actually takes and how secure the connections are. There are basically different ways by which home appliances can be networked at home. “A so-called bridge is often used for control,” explains Timo Breuer from the technology magazine “Inside-Digital.D”.

Via the bridge, locally or in the cloud

Behind this is a type of distributor for networked devices. “The bridge then connects one or more smart home devices to the Internet,” Breuer says. “Smart home devices in turn make encrypted communication with the bridge via special smart home standards such as Bluetooth or ZigBee or Z-Wave.”

Another type is a purely local network, for which you usually need a router. “Devices are only used in home networks and are not connected to the Internet at all. The advantage is the high level of data security, the disadvantage is the low level of convenience, because, for example, an IP camera cannot be used remotely “Says Arnold Arnold from” PC Welt “, an expert magazine.

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The third possibility is pure cloud systems. “With these smart home networks, user data and configuration data are also on external servers,” says Jörg Geiger from Expert magazine “Chip”. “This applies to systems like Apple Homekit, Google Assistant or Adventuress Alexa off. ”To do the settings, you must always access the provider’s server.

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More uniformity is coming

How secure the data is then depends on both the user and the device manufacturer. “Theoretically, encryption should be used wherever data flows,” Geiger says. Transport encryption is now standard for data transfer. But the smart home has not yet achieved uniformity, making optimal security difficult.

This should change with efforts to introduce smart home standards, which are practically at all major manufacturers and Internet companies Connectivity Standards Alliance(CSA) has joined forces to provide assistance in industries. he calls himself matter (Formerly Project Chip – “Connected Home Over IP”) and, in addition to security and reliability, are intended to guarantee that smart devices can work together regardless of manufacturer.

“With devices, security depends on firmware updates. If these are not done regularly, security gaps arise,” says Geiger. Especially with older devices, this can sometimes become a problem. Goes if the manufacturer stops support. But the software of the WLAN router must always be up-to-date and also be protected with strong passwords.

In addition, consumers should rely on well-known providers. “Brand manufacturers are often more concerned here than anonymity and white-label providers offering their products at lower prices on Amazon and the company,” says Timo Breuer. Well-known manufacturers usually have security updates very regularly and usually also automatically.

On the other hand, in the case of low-cost providers, it is often not even clear where the products come from and where the servers are located. In addition, a different password must be used for each service and each log-in. “Password managers can help maintain an overview here,” Brewer advises.

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Good products with transparent data flow

With good smart home products, consumers can also check and set what data is being transmitted. “Usage data is often transmitted outright to the provider. You should be able to object to this when installing the system and you should be able to intervene later,” says Georg Geiger.

The user interface can also often be used to determine whether access should be allowed through the Internet. “Anyone who rules it out will definitely increase the safety standard,” says Arne Arnold. For example, such a setting may also be temporarily useful. For example, a robotic lawn mower does not need to be accessible through the Internet during the winter.

If the data falls into the wrong hands, it is usually not in the home network itself. “A gateway for malware is almost always the manufacturer’s service. Hackers use it to gain access to customer data and ultimately devices, ”says Arnold. The results can be varied and range from malfunctions to access to user data and passwords.

Info box: Key and switch must remain

Timo Brower from the technology magazine “Inside-Digital.D” recommends that you always have an alternative control option ready, especially when you have a critical infrastructure at home. “Smart door locks must also be able to open with traditional keys and be able to manually lift the shutter if the manufacturer’s server is inaccessible.”

In the case of fully smart lighting, switches are also usually introduced that work even without an internet connection. According to the browser, caution is required with used devices: “Some smart home devices cannot be reset as easily as a smartphone or notebook at factory settings, but still be linked to the previous owner’s account Could. ” Here customers should check in advance whether the manufacturer provides appropriate assistance.

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Substance side

Connectivity Standard Alliance Website

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