Should you worry about your smart home being hacked?

This year, you automated your home. You put in a bunch of smart outlets, some addressable bulbs, and you’re looking at controlling it all with an Echo Dot or Google Assistant. Why not? It’s the 21st century and after all, this is what we were promised.

Smart home tech is cool, but…

it does seem like there are a lot of stories about hacks. You hear about hackers getting into companies. You hear about credit card numbers being stolen. It seems like the only way to keep anything safe is to make sure it isn’t online. I understand the feeling.

You might have even heard of some popular home routers being vulnerable to attack from Russian hackers. That’s all you need, right? Russian hackers finding out how far along you are in Fortnite? Yeah it’s what people call a “first world problem.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.

So this might make you think twice about automating everything in your home. After all, if you can set your oven or thermostat from anywhere, doesn’t that mean someone else could?

Should you be worried then?

I think you should have healthy concern. You should set smart Wi-Fi passwords. Definitely change the admin password on your router. If you have a guest network, don’t put your smart home stuff on it. If you have one of those hackable routers, update it or replace it. Worrying about stuff is normal, but then if you do something about it, you don’t have to worry.

The biggest thing that probably keeps your smart home safe is “security through obscurity.” Here’s the theory: Why would some Russian hacker break into your network to play with your light switches. How would they even know who you were? How would they even know you had a smart home? And how would they know if it was driving you crazy?

Security through obscurity is what keeps your home safe, most of the time. When you’re away from home, you’re vulnerable but thieves aren’t going to take the time and risk of breaking in because they don’t know you. They don’t know what you have in there and what it’s worth. They’d rather go for something with a known reward. So they ignore your house.

That isn’t the best way to protect your home or your data, but to be honest… it’s probably the most effective. You absolutely should have a security system. You absolutely should have your network as secure as your front door, if not more so. But really what’s keeping you safe most of the time is that no one is trying to break in. That’s a good thing.

Should you stop automating your home?

Of course every situation is different but I would personally say, don’t worry so much about your home automation being hacked. It’s not likely to happen, especially if you set up the security properly. If you aren’t sure how to do that, get a local network professional to help you. You can still live like the Jetsons, as long as you plan for some security.


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.