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  • The Safety of the Internet of Things
Technology Articles > Software > Security & Privacy > The Safety of the Internet of Things

Connected Home Devices: Are You Safe?

IKEA has recently created a connected home lighting system. The system, called Tradfri, allows homeowners to turn lights on and off using a small console and your smartphone. The concept is interesting (Ikea has a video of this product running on its website), but the problem with any connected device is security.

Are Ikea’s Lights Secure?

There are glaring problems with connected devices. The main issue being that these devices are made from parts that come from overseas. It’s not the overseas part that is bothersome either. It’s the fact that many different parts might come from a variety of factories where the main concern is mass production at a cheap price.

Large companies (like Ikea) purchase these parts from the lowest bidder, rebrand them, and sell them to the public. So while a connected device might look like it’s made by a trusted and popular manufacturer, the firmware inside of those devices are manufactured by companies that do not provide (or even think about) technical support and things like security.

The Problem

When a connected device has a notable security flaw, major brands cannot go back to the factories overseas where those devices are created to look for someone that may know how to fix the problem. Why? That person simply doesn’t exist. Without any real government regulation, it’s a massive problem that needs to be fixed.

But what does this have to do with Ikea’s new connected lighting? Essentially, any device that can be controlled through the Internet from a smartphone is vulnerable to attacks. Hackers look for security holes and use them to gather personal information - or, worse, attempt to take take the entire Internet. Yes, it can happen.

Keeping Connected Devices Safe

While you can’t do anything to fix device security holes, you can make sure that you are updating your devices when necessary (and when fixes are available). Simply going through the update process means that you will be able to fix any known issues. Often this is just a matter of updating your device, so make sure that you pay attention to those update warnings.

It is unknown where or how Ikea has sourced the parts for its new lighting line. It’s possible that the company does have a backup plan in place in case of attacks or security loopholes. If you want lights that can be controlled from your smartphone, you can always check out the Ikea set - it’s relatively inexpensive (in line with Ike’s other products).

Are Connected Devices Safe?

In this writer’s opinion, no, connected devices are not safe. Until some kind of regulation is in place, the Internet of Things and all that goes with it leaves a gaping hole for hackers - one that isn’t likely to be patched any time soon. Whether or not you choose to connect your home to these devices is up to you, but do be careful should you make this decision. Ikea’s new lights will be available this spring in North America.