Should It Network
Written by Benjamin Friedman, August 21st 2016
The smart home is here! Just about anything you could imagine is networkable. From fridges, ovens, drink makers and thermostats, you can quite literally control everything in your home from the push of a button, but should you? We recommend you exercise your own personal judgement and a few of these guidelines before you start putting money on the next big IOT device.
Is this your home? If so it's up to you. If it's your business, even one that you own it's quite possible you're asking for trouble. Installing something like a smart thermostat could potentially create a nuisance when an unwanted individual keeps turning up the heat. In the best case this could be just inconvenient, in the worst case it could be the temperature control for an ice rink.
Are there known safety concerns to this? A remotely accessible alarm system would fall under this category. It is in your best interest to limit potential points of entry either physically or digitally, both to your alarm system and whatever you're protecting. Adding a remotely accessible system (perhaps by an app) does not necessarily compromise this, but it adds additional points of entry (such as through an app if your phone is stolen). Again, take strong considerations into how safe you want your home or business to be when you make something networkable.
Does this really benefit me? In most cases the answer is yes! Something like a smart oven or drink maker would definitely be beneficial 🍻 . Other cases involving something like a remote garage door opener are not necessarily as helpful as a spare key or door code. Accidentally opening your garage all day may not be a pleasant experience to come home to.
Does this make sense as an investment? The latest trend of smart light bulbs is fascinating when you consider how disposable a lightbulb is. The cost may make sense initially, but over time? In this regard it would be a more sensible investment to install smart light switch controls rather than the bulbs themselves. Not only is this more cost effective in the long term, but it does not hinge on the production of these lightbulbs in the future, any bulbs will do.
Is this mission critical? If you cannot afford to be unable to communicate with your networked device at any time, you're probably looking for a dedicated system that can run on its own instead. Putting a remotely accessible system that hinges on your ability to reach it should either have a fallback or secondary means of accessing it. Assuming you have one of the aforementioned then you should be ok.
Last but not least consider if someone will have a field day if they compromise this. When I say compromise I really hack, and it's something you never want to be the target of. If making something accessible over a network potentially risks your information, your business or a client's information in an unreasonable fashion, reconsider your options. In some cases the benefits of making your systems externally accessible outweighs the risks, offering huge opportunities for you or your business.
In general keep the following in mind, public stays public, private stays private. If the public can already interact with it, go ahead and network it! If they couldn't reach it before, strongly consider an alternative.
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