This week Kevin and I went to Las Vegas for the annual CES event showcasing thousands of technology products under dozens of roofs. We recorded the show before we had the chance to see everything, but we did pull together this show with some of the big themes we saw developing and the news that we felt would matter most to our smart home listeners.
We saw several products purporting to adapt to the user and their environment to deliver a product or experience. L’Oreal showed off personalized makeup and skincare that adapted to the environment and your face on a daily basis, while Nanoleaf promised a lighting system that would learn your habits and deliver the right lighting. We also talked about a bunch of new Wi-Fi routers and a new talent that some routers will get. The third big trend revolves around healthcare for people and pets. We’ll have more on that next week as well.
This week’s Internet of Things Podcast is a bit different from our typical format. Instead of discussing a range of topics and sharing a guest interview, we’re tackling the question we get so often from our listeners who are rightfully concerned about their home network security with smart devices installed: Should all of these webcams, smart locks, thermostats, and other devices be segmented to a guest network?
On the surface, that sounds like a smart idea. The main reason is that any compromised smart devices won’t be able to infect computers and other things on your primary network. A secondary reason is to limit access to your smart home when guests are over.
So here’s what we did: We both created guest networks in our home and migrated all of our smart devices over to them. And we found out some very interesting things. For starters, we didn’t lose access to any of our devices through this setup, which is good. However, we also found out that the reverse situation is a bad one. When on our guest networks with devices on the regular network, we still had access to many of them unexpectedly, which is bad.
Our takeaway is that if you want to put your smart home devices on a guest network, that’s fine but it may not add much more security. In particular, if your smart device credentials are stolen, as was the case with recent “hacks” of the Ring and Nest systems, this setup won’t really help you. We’re thinking that using a network monitoring system such as a Firewalla is a better solution. And better yet would be installing a router that supports VLANs, or Virtual LANs, for your smart home devices. Tune in and let us know what you think or if you have additional related network concerns or solutions.