We sat down with Frank Marrero, home tech service expert at Acoustic Architects, to talk about cyber security for smart homes and how to protect yourself from threats.
What is your background in home tech?
I’ve been an enthusiast since middle school, but after high school I started working with home theaters, then moved into smart home audio. I’ve done a lot of work with building computers for gaming and stock trading, actually.
Tell us about your role at Acoustic Architects.
I’m a technician and troubleshooter. I make sure settings are correct, that the topology is correct, and everything is secure and working properly.
Just as some background, how would you describe the process of an attack on a connected device to a layperson?
You have multiple devices on a network, like a highway. A router routes traffic to devices, but say you have a smart assistant or some smart lightbulb–they aren’t designed to be super secure, so someone might enter through the lightbulb, go to the router, then to anything (a laptop, computer, etc.,) which would be disastrous.
Attacks on connected devices seem to be on the rise and more in the forefront of people’s minds. What would you say to someone who was anxious about their smart home’s vulnerability.
If you have a system integrator who knows what they’re doing and a good product, and all the correct firewall rules, you can rest assured that even if someone gets in, they won’t get at the good stuff. And when it comes to passwords, be smart. Use a password manager like LastPass, change your passwords frequently, and use suggested passwords rather than coming up with your own or reusing old passwords.
What kind of expectations and/or anxieties do clients have when considering the security of their smart home?
Anxieties stem from the fact that a smart home is connected to the internet, which can get hacked. Really, it’s only a matter of when not if, but there are best practices anyone can put into place to help safeguard: Don’t give permissions that you don’t want them to have – when a device wants to scan your network, you can tell it no. Sacrifice the features that need that permission. There’s no reason to let a device or app overstep its boundaries. Crestron and Savant have options to not connect to the internet at all – the processing is all done on the host.
What do you think is the most important thing a smart homeowner can do to preserve the security of their connected home?
Passwords! That’s the biggest thing that is super easy to do. Hacking isn’t complicated, they just try a bunch of passwords. Of course there are pricier things that you can do, but really, passwords are the best bang for the buck.
What are the biggest challenges you face when protecting a home with a multitude of connected devices and how do you address them?
When you use the right products, a good installer doesn’t face any challenge. Knowing the needs of the homeowners and making a plan to accommodate them is key. If, for example, you have several devices on a home network, but someone is doing a lot of work from home, we can easily set up a virtual local area network for just those work devices, separating them from the home devices, which keeps all the devices safer. Thinking back to the highway metaphor, if we can keep certain devices moving on separate highways, there are fewer chances for someone to get to and between them.
What is some new smart technology you’re excited about?
Siri is processing requests on devices now, rather than on the cloud. This means that the computing that’s done when you say “Hey Siri” gets completed on your phone; it’s huge for security. It’ll help people feel their privacy is better protected.
What do you see in the future for home tech and cyber security?
People are finally understanding that these are real threats and the wrong people are getting in in ways typical homeowners never thought of before. Cyber security is important. Your devices need to be protected. What’s great is that it’s easy to do by being smart about your passwords and using a professional installer.
Responsive Living, the term coined by Acoustic Architects founders, Aaron Flint and Spencer Hauldren, is the concept of seamlessly enhancing the client’s unique lifestyle using smart home technology. Responsive Living allows you to interact with your space via touch input, voice command, and predictive automation, placing you in full control of your home.
If you would like to learn more about integrating new systems into your smart home system, feel free to connect with us. We will be happy to schedule a demo with you.
For more information, visit acousticarchitects.net.
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