Last month, CES 2015 was held in Las Vegas, and we saw the continuation of the smart home boom. Dozens of companies showcased their new smart appliance technology, everything from smart light bulbs to washing machines controlled from your smart phone. One issue, however, that may not be stressed enough is the importance of a secure and updated network.
There is a growing tension in the dynamic and balance between the need for tight security and the convenience that consumers want. Ideally, of course, they would co-exist as one in the same, but that is not yet always the case. Typically, consumers are not buying products based on the security requirements or the guarantee of operating system upgrades. Instead, the market is driven by innovation, convenience, and price.
As an example, however, of the need for a shift in consumer priorities is present in a report that came out in December stating that a bug patched back in 2002 was still found to exist in more than 12 million home routers. Even a network that is running last year’s OS is just not as secure as people might think. I don’t bring this up to scare people away from the benefits of smart home technology, but rather to draw attention to the importance of a secure network and highlight the fact that the longer a network goes without the necessary upgrades, the more vulnerable it becomes.
So why are we not upgrading more? There are several reasons. One, oftentimes manufacturers discontinue support to keep costs down, or maybe the company folds altogether. Another reason may be that most customers are not prepared or equipped to handle the technical aspects of upgrading firmware. And an all too common reason might be that we as consumers don’t want to risk network downtime or are hesitant to introduce a change into an infrastructure that seems to be running smoothly.
The next question then becomes – how often should we be upgrading our network software? Of course, the answer is going to vary depending on the network size, complexity, security requirement, and other factors, but a good rule of thumb may be to upgrade twice a year, or once a year at the absolute minimum. And yes, upgrading a network involves work. It may require new hardware, additional memory, network downtime, and initially will require some research to even determine the proper upgrade and the necessary process.
When it comes to your smart home and the network it runs on, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” is certainly not an applicable idiom. It’s important to be proactive in the maintenance and safety of your home or business network. For more tips on the security of your home network, check out my previous column on smart home safety. And if you’re interested in discussing network security further or want to find out how you can upgrade your home to enjoy today’s latest technology, please visit us at https://ModernHomeSystems.com or give us a call at (858) 554-0404.