Smart home appliances sure have made life easier recently. From simple voice-activated light bulbs to robot vacuums, washing machines, refrigerators, and everything else in between, smart home appliances not only give you the power to control your equipment through voice, but you can control them when you’re not even at home. The ability to turn off an oven you forgot was on while in the car is both convenient and a safety feature. However, you may have heard recently that smart home appliances are tracking you, storing information, and sending it off to who knows where. These cyber security myths can sound all too real (and all too terrifying). But are these myths true? Here’s what you need to know.
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First, appliances are not designed to spy on you. They are designed to learn how you work with the device and then adapt accordingly. It’s why a smart thermostat will learn how you want the temperature and when the temperature needs to be changed. However, it is with this storing that issues can arise.
The information regarding how you use the device will be stored in a cloud server. Some manufacturers are able to use this information in order to send out firmware updates and to improve how the device works specifically for you. But as is the case with any kind of data, it is possible for hackers to access it. For some appliances this isn’t that big of a deal, but it can give a larger picture of what you do at home (such as when you return home on average, when the front door is unlocked and lights turn on in the evening, for example). So while smart home appliances are not actually tracking you (beyond how you interact with the device), there is a possibility someone from the outside may hack and access this information.
Improve Your Security
If you want to make sure your information isn’t leaked and yet you still want to continue using smart home appliances you can clear out your personal data from time to time. Now, do note that doing so will reduce some adaptive features of the appliances. These devices will not work as well as if they continually store and learn from your data. When clearing out information you’ll basically be performing a factory reset of the device (clearing out the data storage of your smart vacuum will mean the device will need to remap out your floor plan again).
In order to remove negative content you need to go into the appliance’s application and tell the device to delete the information. Some devices may allow you to pick and choose what you delete, while others it will be a blanket removal. The chances of your information getting out is small, and most of the information isn’t all that useful on a smaller scale. But if you feel more comfortable making sure everything has been cleared from our devices, so your household information isn’t floating around, personal information removal is an option. Thankfully, this removal is something you can easily do at home within your smartphone or tablet.