Whether you are an individual considering investing in a smart hub for your family’s home or a business owner thinking about having a smart hub for the office, it is crucial to consider the risks of its technical capabilities. While smart hubs can be helpful and practical tools for everyday living, they may come with certain safety risks that are not always discussed before purchase.
Smart hubs come with many safety risks, including increased cybercrime, vulnerable channels, occasionally failing or jamming smart locks, and the possibility of hacker takeovers, making them a safety risk for those who use them.
For those who have yet to purchase a smart hub, a huge deterrent can be the safety risks to personal information. To learn more about the safety hazards of smart hubs, as well as how to take some possible precautions, continue reading below.
What is a Smart Hub Used For?
A smart hub, also known as a smart home hub, is a major centric culmination that connects all of your electronics and smart devices together.
This hub becomes the central navigating feature, or “brain,” that gives you the ability to control all of your smart devices at the same time, offering ease to users who typically spend a lot of extra time activating and deactivating all of their different smart electronics.
Smart hubs are used for connecting all your smart devices like iPhones, tablets, smart thermostats, and security systems to one central technological system for consolidating user control.
Some different examples of commonly used smart devices used today are:
- Motion sensors
- Music players
- Pet bowls
- Smart home lights
- And more
The purpose of linking all of these smart electronic items together includes ease and comfort for individuals and families, as well as efficiency for larger businesses that use many smart devices simultaneously on a regular basis.
How Do Smart Hubs Work?
Smart hubs generally operate as command systems for smart homes, sometimes also referred to as iHomes. Through hardware wired to initiate small commands, smart hubs use programmed software to connect all of your smart electronics and devices.
This can be done by using one app that can be installed on various platforms, including phones, tablets, or computers.
Smart hubs work by transmitting signals between smart devices through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, instructing different devices to activate depending on either the user’s manual initiation on the primary controlling device or pre-set timed device application settings.
Through varying settings within the application, the user then gets the option to link two or more devices or create sub-groups that can initiate the activation of devices either together or individually. Some practical examples of this option include:
- Activating all electronic devices all at once.
- Activating the lights in your home with your music player.
- Activating the lights in your home alone.
- Activating your smart pet bowl in the kitchen while activating only the kitchen lights.
With a smart hub, you also have the ability to make up your own series of predetermined actions on a timer so that when you arrive home at the end of the day your smart locks will unlock, alarm with deactivating, smart lights will turn on, heat will turn up, and music player will welcome you with your favorite songs.
This creates the ultimate feeling of comfort and luxury for busy users needing many devices to activate together.
What Are the Pros of Having a Smart Hub?
First created and released in 2012 by the SmartThings company and later purchased by the brand Samsung in 2014, smart hubs have become one of the most widely used technology integrators today.
The pros of having a smart hub for your home or office include comfort, ease of multiple device use, time saving, remote security, remote temperature control, and application downsizing.
Some of the pros of having a smart hub include:
- Comfort becomes easy with the touch of an app: Control your thermostat and turn on your lights from your commute home before ever even reaching the front door.
- Controlling your appliances and security systems remotely: There’s no need to worry if you forgot the heat, lights, or even smart stove on when you leave for vacation. You can all turn them off from your smart hub.
- Keeping an eye on your house or business from afar: If you are at work or out of town, any smart doorbell camera connected to a smart hub can be accessed and seen from your location.
- Minimize the number of apps you use: When you have multiple smart devices, connecting them to a smart hub can minimize the number of apps you need to use to control them all each day.
With convenience at its core, a smart hub can definitely help make everyday tasks seem generally easier. Unfortunately, this major comfort comes with its own set of risks and safety hazards.
What Are the Safety Risks of Smart Hubs?
Regardless of their convenient benefits and pros, smart hubs come with a serious set of safety risks due to the open channels they use to transmit information from device to device.
The safety risks of smart hubs include cybercrime, home break-ins, data breaches, identity theft, unauthorized bank account access, smart lock failures, and more.
These risks can come with information breaches and safety consequences ranging from mild to severe, and have included:
- Cybercrime: Smart hubs, when left unprotected, can sometimes be accessed by those committing cybercrime. This includes those attempting identity theft, fraud, and other virtual illegal activities.
- Home break-ins: The SmartThings Smart Hub was shown to have flaws that allowed thieves to jam motion sensors in houses whose security systems were connected to smart hubs in 2016.
- Major data breaches: Smart homes have been subject to data breaches through cyber hackers gaining access to Androids and iPhones linked to smart hubs.
- Smart lock failure: Some smart hubs created by Zipato’s ZipaMicro were noted to have major security flaws in 2019 that resulted in third-party users opening smart hubs controlled by that hub.
- Total system takeovers: In 2018, remote hackers were successful in taking complete control of a number of smart home hubs, gaining access to user’s homes, security systems, phones, and all other smart devices linked to the smart hub.
- Unstable channels: Smart hubs often use open communication channels to communicate information, such as to turn on or off, between your smart home app and connected devices. When the line is not protected, it is considered an unstable channel.
Even though these safety risks might sound like a cause for alarm and major concern, there are some simple ways to protect your smart hub from being hacked or accessed by unwanted third parties.
To keep your smart home and affiliated devices safe from harm, implementing a multifactor authentication system is often recommended.
You can also change your password frequently, keep your software updated, keep your IP addresses and passwords private and locked away, and refrain from using any form of public Wi-Fi internet.
Which Are the Most Popular Smart Hubs?
Since smart hubs are purchased all the time by everyday users, it is essential to know which are usually ranked as generally most and least susceptible to safety risks.
The most popular smart hubs are the ones that have experienced the least safety breaches and information leak recalls. These include brands from Amazon and Google to Securifi and Wink.
Some of the safer models include:
- Amazon Echo Plus
- Apple TV 4K
- Google Nest Hub
- Insteon Hub
- Logitech Harmony Hub
- Securifi Almond 3
- Wink Hub
These smart hub options all come with the ability for software and application updates which are said to prevent the theft of important information and smart hub passwords.
What Should I Consider Before Getting a Smart Hub?
Before you purchase a smart hub of your own, don’t forget to consider all of the following considerations and requirements that go along with having a smart hub in your home or office.
Before getting a smart hub for your home or office, you should consider other consumer reviews, the smart hub brand’s Better Business Bureau rating, and whether you have confidence in the smart hub’s safety system.
Other important technical and convenience considerations should include:
- Compatibility availability with existing smart devices
- The smart hub app and its accessibility on your phone and computer
- Your operating system’s compatibility with Android or iPhone
- Your required Wi-Fi connection speed
- Voice control will be activated unless set otherwise
While smart hubs can seem like a great buy for fun and easy access to your home’s smart devices and electronics, understanding the full spectrum of safety risks they present is an important consideration to make before deciding to invest in one.
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