Cyber security and the smart home



Over recent years there’s been a lot of talk about the cyber security of smart homes, with many people under the misapprehension that just because your home accesses the internet, the smart home devices within it may be subject to hacking and threat.

The reality is, ensuring the cyber security of your smart home is not dissimilar to ensuring the general security of your home.

It involves implementing best practice, understanding the threat and working to eliminate it. And that always comes down to proper installation.

Here’s a quick guide to cyber security in the smart home.

A quick smart home 101

In a properly installed smart home, devices connect and communicate with each other so they can work together to automate tasks and employ routines and scenes.

Best practice sees this internal communication within a smart home happen on a mesh network like Z-Wave.

Instead of utilising a router which is connected to the internet to relay information to each other, mesh networks allow this communication to occur independently.

Basically, every device on a mesh network can talk to each other directly wherever they are on this network and this can occur with or without internet access. As every point on a mesh network creates an extra communication path, every time you add a device, the network becomes stronger.

These devices then communicate with a hub that can tell them what to do, while also allowing the homeowner to set scenes and see what state every device is in.

The security of Z-Wave

One of the major advantages of Z-Wave is that it offers superior security.

It is renowned for its encryption and highly-secure authentication protocols.

The Z-Wave Alliance explains a little more about how this security works…

“A Z-Wave smart home network has a unique ID that it assigns to every device in the network, and that ID is different for every hub so your neighbour’s smart hub cannot control your devices.

“When an extra level of security is needed, such as for door locks and other high security devices, Z-Wave has another level of security which uses AES128 encryption at the same level that major banks use to protect your financial information. 

“Z-Wave AES encryption is supported by most Z-Wave hubs today and is required on all hubs with the Z-WavePlus mark on them.”

This hub then connects to the internet so a smart home can be controlled externally using smart phones, apps and voice command.

And, it’s here, when the smart home has access to the greater Internet, that security really needs to kick in.

Firewalls, passwords and protocols

In addition to mesh networks which feature their own levels of security and encryption, a smart home needs to be protected at the point the internet is accessed in the home.

This comes down to utilising firewalls, passwords and protocols that protect home from outside threats.

And in many ways, this should be considered in the same way as the physical security you employ in the home.

The aim is to limit the access points or doorways that an intruder might use to gain entry to a house, and then put all your efforts into protecting any remaining access areas using the best methods available.

In a nutshell, a firewall is a system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. It establishes a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted external network, such as the Internet.

So using the analogy above, a firewall is like a locked door complete with peephole. You can see who’s at the door and deny or grant them entry depending on their intent and whether you trust them.

Lera’s approach to security

At Lera, our reputation rests on the security, convenience and usability or our smart homes.

With extensive backgrounds in IT, networking, and electrical, we understand the importance of security and know the industry best-practice required to minimise and eliminate cyber security threats.

As Lera founder Ben Lee explains, the security of any smart home s dependent on the installer.

“If you use the right installer you won’t have an issue with smart home security.

“We know how to set up strong passwords. We know how to establish firewalls. We know how to make your system secure and safe. And our master licences reflect that.

“The products that we’ve chosen and use have also done that research into security, so we are confident in the security of your smart home.”

The security takeaway

It’s true, protecting your smart against cyber security threats should be a priority. But it’s also where best practice and suitably qualified installers come into play.

That’s why you should take the time to select the right installer, check their track record and their experience, and question them about the cyber security methods they use.

This research into installers should be conducted in the knowledge smart homes are part IT and networking, part knowledge of the most secure products and techniques available, and part installation of a smart home that is going to meet your needs.

At Lera, we meet all of those criteria, bringing IT and networking backgrounds o the table, extensive knowledge of smart home products and best practice, electrical qualifications and a reputation for designing and installing smart homes that not only withstand cyber security threats, they also stand the test of time.

About Lera Smart Home Solutions

Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.

We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.

You can learn more about transforming your house into a smart home here, access our smart home calculators here or contact us directly for further advice.