Technological advances have a significant trickle-down effect, intended to improve all aspects of modern living. This is especially true in the home, where the “smart” revolution has filled our homes with all sorts of automated and interconnected devices.
It’s estimated that the home automation market will hit 350 million users by 2023. This includes security measures as well, and the past few years have shown a proliferation of new and improved devices to keep our homes safe. We’ll take a look at some of these security solutions and how home-owners can harness new tech to protect themselves and their families.
The DIY wave
With home security gadgets becoming ever more prevalent, DIY devices like sensors, sirens, cameras, video doorbells, and smart locks are increasingly popular. They offer quick and easy implementation without the added cost of installation or renovation.
The rise of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other cloud and Wi-Fi-connected home devices adds complexity to home and business security alike. For this reason, existing smart technologies are getting security updates, such as Alexa Guard. Simply saying, “Alexa, I’m leaving” activates the guard function, which keeps an electric ear tuned for sounds of a break-in, be it smashing glass or the ransacking of a burglar.
Despite the growing popularity of DIY security solutions, the know-how provided by installation experts is still invaluable. To adapt to modern trends, professional installers are offering a more comprehensive range of remote and virtual services, including instructional and troubleshooting videos that home-owners can take advantage of when installing their gadgets.
Surveillance cameras are an easy-to-use and effective safety measure. They don’t require much labor or technical expertise to set up or operate, and high-quality models are now more affordable than ever, making strong home security more accessible to the average user. They allow you to remotely monitor your home and property through your mobile device, letting you know your home is safe even when you’re far away.
Depending on where you live, it may be prudent to invest in a camera with adjustable sensitivity. This helps prevent false alarms caused by passing cars or urban wildlife. It’s also worth noting that storage capabilities vary greatly. Local storage options may be practical for the price-conscious, but those who opt for fancier models benefit from cloud access and time-lapse capabilities for quick viewing of any security events.
Smart locks can help make your home an impregnable fortress. There are numerous varieties, including variants that attach to existing locks if you’re unable or unwilling to change the deadbolt. Smart locks also boast multiple unlocking methods, like the Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro, which can be opened by a key, app, numerical code, or even via fingerprint.
Other models feature alerts that notify you if a door is left ajar or auto-unlock features that sense your phone’s proximity. However, if you only have one entryway, it might be best to choose a smart lock with key access, as a keyless version may lock you out if it malfunctions.
If you decide on a smart lock, why not supplement it with a smart doorbell? It’s estimated that more than 5 million units will be sold in 2022, and it’s easy to see why. They offer a simple, easy-to-use option to thwart porch pirates, keep an eye on anyone approaching your property, and avoid pesky solicitors.
According to security expert Ludovic Rembert of Privacy Canada, video doorbells provide an excellent solution for improved home security:
“Video doorbells are a simple security measure that the 21st century makes possible,” says Rembert. “On top of that, it offers amazing security with recording motion at the door and the ability to check who is there before actually going to the door. The best video doorbells on the market use existing doorbell wiring and are easy to install. The models that you would want to use will be high resolution at 1080p with a wide-angle lens, night vision, and cloud storage for video recordings.”
Amazon’s Ring range are the best known, but some rival models include fancier bells and whistles. DING Video offers a Wi-Fi extender, which also boosts the connectivity of your other devices. Others, like Vivint Camera, utilize facial recognition to log the faces of family members and visitors. Zone-specific motion detection may also be useful because it can focus on specific areas and ignore others — perfect if you live near a street with constant traffic.
As with any gadget, compatibility with other devices is a major factor to consider with your home security solutions. As an example, Logitech’s Circle View Doorbell only works if paired with Apple devices and Apple HomeKit software.
Consider integrated systems
You may feel that stand-alone options like surveillance cameras, video doorbells, smart locks, and entryway sensors don’t provide an adequate level of security. If so, you can splurge on more extensive, integrated systems that offer total-household surveillance. Such a full-spectrum system may offer a combination of smart locks, surveillance cameras, video doorbells, motion sensors, sirens, motion-activated lights, as well as sensors for water damage, carbon monoxide, smoke.
For a steeper fee, subscription services like Vivint Smart Home provide 24/7 surveillance and notify the authorities in case of a break-in, fire, or other potentially disastrous event. Alternatively, on-demand services offer temporary protection while you’re on vacation or on out-of-town engagements.
IoT puts you in control
While cloud computing and the IoT provide new attack vectors for bad actors, they also offer easy-to-use security applications, turning your phone or tablet into a command center.
You can now take charge of your home security systems from wherever you are and track any potential activity while remotely controlling locks, lights, cameras, and other features. You can also set rules, such as automatically activating lights at certain times or when motion is detected, or unlocking doors if smoke is detected.
Costlier options also allow for a larger, more reliable mesh network relying on intuitive, flexible radio communication technologies to support and integrate an ever-growing list of smart home devices controlled from a touch-screen hub.
Don’t neglect network security
Experts recognize that cybersecurity threats are on the rise, and as your home network grows more extensive, it also heightens the risk that your smart devices could be hacked. This is why network security is just as important as physical security.
What’s more, if most of your business operations have been happening from your house over the past year, you want to avoid a situation where inadequate home security compromises business security. You can start to address this issue by disabling or removing unused services and software, which introduce new avenues for breaches. You can also ensure that software is up-to-date by checking for patches and new security updates.
Additionally, guest networks can give your visitors Wi-Fi access without revealing passwords, which should be changed frequently (either manually or via a password manager). Furthermore, safer wireless technologies like Z-Wave boost network signals while also improving security by utilizing the same encryption methods employed in online banking.
Some things will always remain out of our control, but as security solutions improve and become more widespread, that list grows ever smaller. With the plethora of affordable and easy-to-use home security technologies available today, there’s no reason to leave your home and family unguarded.
The pandemic has pushed us to the point where our homes and businesses may be one and the same, so it’s more important than ever to ensure physical and network security in your home.
Shanice Jones is a techy nerd and copywriter from Chicago. For the last five years, she has helped over 20 startups building B2C and B2B content strategies that have allowed them to scale their business and help users around the world.