How Safe is Your Walled Garden?

Published by Rob Conant August 03, 2014

While I do many non-geek things, I also have a PhD in electrical engineering and I've always worked in tech (albeit on the business side for the last 10+ years). You could say I'm a geek.

That said, I have absolutely no desire to manage the IT security in my home. I honestly just don't want to think about it.

But we're all left with no choice on this one. The architecture of our home networks is built with best-of-breed approaches from the 90's: build a walled garden and don't let the bad people in. If you're paranoid, build the walls higher and thicker.

The problem is, we DO let lots of people in. We let in friends, computers from various places, Airbnb guests, neighbors, and our kid's friends. And it's not only people; we give our SSID and passwords to devices from manufacturers, some of whom we don't really know or trust. People are hugely concerned about what Google and Facebook know about us, but what about the manufacturer of that connected baby monitor? What about that connected lightbulb?

I know enough about security to know that we're trusting everything in our local "walled garden" to those manufacturers, who, if they want to, can access our networks directly from those devices. They can access any of our communications on our home networks, they can likely access files on our home computers, they can potentially access streaming video from security cameras, and lots of other data.

With the smart home, security relates not only to privacy, but also to physical security. Many home devices assume that anything in the walled garden is trusted, so they expose control functions to local devices. That could involve turning up and down your thermostat (which could be relatively harmless) but could also mean locking and unlocking your door.

It's only a matter of time before consumers catch on and get concerned about security on their local networks. It's better for us as an industry to solve this problem before it becomes a barrier to growth.

Cirrent is doing its part. Stay tuned to learn more about how Cirrent's solution addresses consumer connected product security.