Privacy: Why You Should Probably Make Your Own Home Automation Devices

Privacy: Why You Should Probably Make Your Own Home Automation Devices

By Bo Lechnowsky, President of ameriDroid.com

With all of the hacks, vulnerabilities, data leaks and other disheartening news surrounding cloud services, cloud products, and big data companies, you may want to consider putting in the effort to create your own version of these solutions.


"Smart" doorbell

Have you read the recent news that the "smart doorbell" sold by a major company sends your home's WiFi password in plain text through the Internet, allowing hackers to gain access to your home network? And how the same company bragged about tracking "Trick-or-treaters" as they went from house-to-house on Halloween?

Have you read the news from this Summer of a popular "smart lock" that allows hackers to unlock your doors without knowing your passcode or having a key?


Image: Chase Dardaman, Jason Wheeler

From techcrunch.com:

Dardaman said any hub connected directly to the internet would be remotely exploitable. The researchers found five such vulnerable devices using Shodan, a search engine for publicly available devices and databases.

Have you heard that Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant can be hacked by a laser from up to 350 feet away?

These are only three of numerous examples of big data companies mishandling the privacy and security of their customers.

One of the reasons these "big data products" are so often hacked is because big data companies are often less concerned about your security than they are about profits and getting a product to market quickly. In addition, they generally have sold a lot of the products in question, which make them a juicy target for hackers.

Here are just a few benefits to building your own versions of these products:

  • You are free to exercise as much creativity and passion when developing your products as you'd like
  • You'll learn new skills and sharpen existing skills
  • You can add features that haven't been offered by others, or that suit your particular needs
  • You can take pride in creating your own solutions, and you can fix your own stuff
  • You can go "overboard" with your security steps if you so desire, or you can rely on "security through obscurity," or a combination of the two, something which may work much better for a one-off product than a product sold to thousands or millions of customers by a big data company
  • You can take an existing how-to project found online and modify it to your personal needs and preferences, often with less effort than starting from scratch
  • There are many open source projects that can be used as a component or starting point for your solution. As opposed to a "canned solution" provided by a big data company, open source software can be audited by anyone to see if any security or privacy concerns exist.

ameriDroid would love to help you in these endeavors. Here are a few of our resources:

  • Single board computers - A great starting point for any smart automation solution, and ameriDroid has the best selection of SBCs in stock ready to ship
  • Microcontrollers - These are like SBCs, but without an operating system. The user uploads a program which then operates at maximum speed without any interference as no other tasks are running on the controller. You may have heard of Arduino, which is also a microcontroller.
  • Sensors - What variables in the environment do you want to be able to detect and how do you want to interact with your solution?
  • Electronics and Components - Sometimes you just need to add a capacitor, resistor, or indicators to your project
  • Prototyping Aids - Why not make it easy to prototype your solution before building a permanent version?

If you decide to create your own solution, we'd love to talk with you about trying it out ourselves, and possibly helping you by distributing it to our customer base.

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