Smart thermostats and other household management systems are getting a lot of press these days. These items are part of the “Internet of Things”, or in everyday language, items that are connected in some way to the internet to allow the owner control of the item from a distance.
“But why would I want to control my thermostat from a distance?” It’s a great question. For many people, a smart thermostat is especially useful when they are away from their homes for long periods of time, and still want to ensure that their HVAC system is working as it should. In an area like Alabama, for example, an HVAC system that shuts off can lead to a very hot and humid home, which can cause problems if homeowners are out of town and won’t be back for awhile.
So, can you smart thermostat be hacked? Yes – anything connected to the internet has the potential for a security breach that allows others to control your device. Why would anyone hack your thermostat? It’s a way for nefarious people to get a sense for your patterns, specifically when you are less likely to be at home.
Does this mean you shouldn’t invest in a smart thermostat? Not necessarily. If you do decide to invest in one of these devices (and let’s face it, they are handy to have around), here are some things you can do to make sure your home is safe.
This Isn’t A Time To Go Off-Brand
The very first thing you can do to protect your home when investing in a smart thermostat is to purchase from a brand you trust. Major name brands are much more likely to take security seriously because their entire business depends on how well their system performs. They have the resources needed and the motivation to develop a product that will be less susceptible to hackers, and will likely be around to continue providing updates that will protect your device and home.
Make Sure Your Router Is Protected
Purchasing from a trusted company is only one step in the process – you should also be sure that your home internet connection is as secure as possible. This means starting with your wireless router. Much like your thermostat, a trusted company should make your router with a strong commitment to security, and it should be kept up-to-date with the latest updates. Protecting your router’s password is also important, so make sure you change your password on a regular basis (i.e., if you have the same password from when you purchased the router, it’s time for a change).
Always Run Required Updates
Much like any computer, your smart thermostat needs to be kept up-to-date with the latest updates. These updates not only keep the thermostat running in great condition – they also provide necessary security updates to protect it from the latest threats. So don’t let those updates stack up…run them regularly to prevent security breaches.
Limit Access To The Thermostat
Some thermostats allow access solely from Wi-Fi connections, while others have access through an Ethernet or USB port. These ports make it easier for a person to make changes to the thermostat, if they can gain direct access to the wall panel. If you invest in a thermostat with a direct port connection, it should be placed in a location that is not easily accessible to strangers. For example, mounting the thermostat near the front door or a window could provide easier access than having it mounted in a hallway.
Thinking about investing in a smart thermostat, but don’t know if it’s the right choice for your home? We’re happy to answer any questions you may have – give us a call at (205) 871-8111 and we will help find the thermostat that works for your home and lifestyle.