n 1982, researchers at Carnegie Mellonconnected a Coca-Cola vending machineto the internet and created the world’s firstsmart appliance. The “smart vendingmachine” could report its inventory andwhether or not the drinks were cold. Itwasn’t until the rise of smartphones,however, that the so-called internet of things(Io T) became ubiquitous. By the end of lastyear, there were 8 billion Io T devices andthat number is projected to grow to 41billion by 2027, according to BusinessInsider’s Internet of Things 2020 report.
Despite the fact that nearly 40 years have passed since aCarnegie Mellon researcher invented the first Io T device, themarket is still in the early stages and appeals mostly to earlyadopters and tech lovers. Most Io T devices for consumers arein the smart home space and are relatively expensive and difficult to set up. Internet-connected devices in the home security sector are particularly useful, though. Traditional homesecurity systems have historically been expensive and difficultto install, and smart home ones can actually be cheaper andeasier to install yourself.
I’ve spent the last few months testing smart home securityproducts and have picked out the best ones for iPhone owners. I live in a quiet neighborhood in a small town, so I’m ina very safe area (many of my neighbors don’t even lock theirdoors). Yet my house is now laughably secure. I have twosecurity systems running simultaneously and a security camera in every corner (five, to be exact). Before sharing productrecommendations, I want to go over a few considerations foranyone considering investing in smart home security devices.
CHECK FOR HOMEKIT
If you own an iPhone, one of the most important factorswhen shopping for a smart home device should be whetheror not it’s HomeKit compatible. HomeKit is Apple’s softwareframework that lets you control smart home devices fromyour Apple devices. Most smart home products come withcompanion apps, but that means you have to use a differentapp for each product you own. With HomeKit, you can controleverything through Apple’s Home app or by using Siri. Thebest part? You can create automations that work betweenmultiple brands of accessories. For example, when I walk upmy front steps, my Home app automatically unlocks the door,disables my security system, adjusts the temperature, andturns on the lights. These types of integrations aren’t possiblewith products that aren’t HomeKit compatible.
SET ASIDE TIME FOR SETUP
Smart home products have come a long way, but they’re
MINIMIZE PRIVACY RISKS
still not as easy to set up and use as the manufacturers would
have you believe. I had installation issues with pretty much
every product I tested, which required more fussing with than
I expected. You’ll be able to set up all of these products on
your own, but be prepared to invest time in troubleshooting.
If you get stuck, you can generally find You Tube tutorials that
When it comes to smart homes, security and privacy areoften at odds with one another. While a smart home devicemay secure your home, it’s connected to the internet and cantherefore be vulnerable to hackers. This is particularlyconcerning when the device is a camera inside your house oran accessory that tracks whether or not you’re home. Whileyou can never completely eliminate the risks, you can takesteps to protect your privacy while also securing your home.Most importantly, purchase home security products fromtrusted brands. Be very cautious before buying any knockoffproducts on Amazon. Next, make sure your router is password protected so that strangers can’t connect to your Wi-Finetwork. Apple now offers a security protocol for routers thatadds an extra layer of protection for smart home products.When purchasing a router, check to make sure it is HomeKitcompatible. Also, make sure you are using secure passwordson all of your smart home products’ companion apps. Placeyour security cameras in shared living spaces and be tactfulabout where you place the devices so that visitors feelcomfortable. Finally, be cautious about who you grant accessto your Home or companion apps. Most of the devices streamover the cloud, so if someone knows your password, they canaccess your device remotely.
Apple now has a protocol for security cameras calledHomeKit Secure Video, which processes the footage locallyand encrypts it before uploading it to the cloud. This meansthat not even Apple has access to the security footage. Onlya few select brands support HomeKit Secure Video (one ofwhich is included in this roundup with the Netatmo securitycamera).
There’s also growing concern around how much accessthe government has to these devices. The Washington Postreports that Amazon-owned security company Ring haspartnered with over 400 US police forces to allow local lawenforcement to access security footage from Ring’s cameraswithout a warrant. The company does require that lawenforcement request the footage, however, and the Ringowner can refuse to provide it. Whether or not you approve ofthese types of partnerships, any time you have an internet-controlled camera in your home, you are opening yourself upto a host of privacy concerns. A 2018 investigation by TheInformation revealed that Ring provided its engineers inUkraine virtually unlimited access to private users’ Ringsecurity footage. I’ve tested every product in this roundup inmy own home and have avoided all Ring products in favor ofproducts with a strong reputation for protecting your privacy.I also chose security cameras that offer features such as localstorage and encryption. With all this in mind, here are thebest products to make your home more secure: