Bruce Schneier on Living in a Smart Home

Security expert Bruce Schneier links to an amusing Gizmodo article pointing out the possible dangers of connected homes. Please also read the comments; they contain some more links to other resources.

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Overall a well-written article; I was worried it was another post written by a tinfoil-hat blogger, but was impressed they kept it fairly impartial. Unfortunately for non tech-savvy people, it’s easy to fall for the marketing of anything “smart” and not understand the hidden implications (tracking) of the software that runs the hardware. I think people should ask themselves if a “smart” device really needs an internet connection to make their lives easier, but I think the non-cloud-connected devices aren’t really marketed, and only professionals or tech enthusiasts have the time or patience to set them up. I’ve recently moved away from the SmartThings platform, less for the concern of tracking, but more for the reason of longevity and reliability. I really don’t want to rely on a cloud connection for essential function (though ST has been moving to a more locally-based control), and also, what I would consider the bigger issue of an unknown lifespan of a product that will likely stop functioning if a company decides it’s no longer profitable at one point in time and pulls the plug on their servers. Open source software has pros and cons, but the key advantage is once you’re able to configure a stable system, you essentially never need to touch it again unless hardware fails. A shining example is my SageTV PVR / media server - though it was sold to Google back in 2011 (open sourced in 2015), the software has been rock solid, operating 24/7 for years even prior to that, and though there aren’t really any new features, it continues to be an extremely reliable server. I hope to achieve similar results with OpenHAB, which I like the option of extending certain features to the cloud without having to rely on it for essential operation.