How to stop your smart home before it tells all

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 at 6:54pm.

Smart devices are entering our homes at an increasing rate bringing the convenience and safety of an "always on" lifestyle, but it’s important to know the steps to take to turn off access and delete data when you sell or rent your home. 

A security breach in one device can compromise an entire network, as has been shown in data breaches at large corporations or in the hijacking of smart cars, baby monitors and televisions, noted Craig Spiezle, President and Executive Director of the Online Trust Alliance. 

The Smart Home Checklist – created by the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) – offers guidance on how to manage the privacy and security of smart homes and devices.

Just as homebuyers and renters reclaim all keys and remote controls, they need to take steps to ensure that the seller, previous tenants and unauthorized third parties no longer have access to the dwelling’s critical systems and devices.

The Smart Home Checklist provides a detailed guide on securing devices in your home prior to transferring occupancy, including:

  • Modems, gateways, hubs, access points
  • Connected access for garage, locks, gates
  • External keypads for garage, locks, gates
  • Thermostats, HVAC, energy systems
  • Smart lighting systems
  • Smoke, carbon monoxide, etc. detectors
  • Sprinkler / irrigation systems
  • Appliances such as TV, refrigerator and washer/dryer
  • Auto controls linked to home systems
  • Security alarms, video monitoring systems

One motivation to install smart devices for many homeowners is the decision to become an Airbnb host and open their home to travelers. Airbnb has grown at a rapid pace since its launch in 2008, and new listings are posted every day by a growing list of homeowners – from the now empty-nesters with rooms to spare to the retirees who find themselves traveling more and like the idea of collecting rental income while they are away.  

For these homeowners, smart devices like those sold by the newly launched Denver company, Notion, offer peace of mind. According to the makers of Notion, the sensor can be stuck on areas of your home you want to keep secure, including a liquor cabinet, wine fridge, room or closet. With a Notion sensor stuck on the door, you will know if your guests get in – or attempt to get in. Or, you can use Notion to tell you if an appliance or water tank is leaking so you can call a plumber.

Other devices that help Airbnb hosts rests easy are the August Smart Lock, which allows you to create e-keys, and the Nest Thermostat, which simplifies home temperature control.

If you’re a tech-savvy do-it-yourselfer, the latest in cool smart technology is the Smart Mirror, just like the one shown in the 2000 science fiction movie The 6th Day, when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bathroom mirror wishes him happy birthday and recounts his schedule for the day.

Smart mirrors are not yet readily available from retailers, but if you’re ambitious, you can create it yourself by following the instructions the Google engineer, Max Braun, shared at the link below.

But remember to take your smart mirror with you when you move or be sure to follow the recommended security steps in the Smart Home Checklist to erase your smart mirror’s memory.

Download the full Smart Home Checklist: https://otalliance.org/system/files/files/initiative/documents/ota_smarthome_check_list.pdf

Find out how to build a smart mirror: https://medium.com/@maxbraun/my-bathroom-mirror-is-smarter-than-yours-94b21c6671ba#.gfw3xcro0

Learn about: 

  • Notion sensor at http://getnotion.com
  • August Lock at http://august.com
  • Nest Thermostat at http://nest.com
to avoid potential privacy or security risks

Tom Kalinski 
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder
303-441-5620
tomkalinski33@gmail.com

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