Home automation has been a staple of science fiction stories for many years, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly ushering in a world where devices are smart enough to handle tasks that used to require the attention of people. One part of the house ripe for such automation is the “man cave”.
Man caves are a relatively new lifestyle trend that basically describe a room or area designed to cater to the tastes and lifestyles of guys, essentially allowing men to indulge in things away from the pressures or stress of the rest of the world. Workshops and garages have traditionally been seen as male-centric areas, but man caves are spaces where manliness is just as much about aesthetics as it is about more “male-oriented work”.
Basements, garages, spare bedrooms, studies, and similar spaces are increasingly being converted into these man caves. According to Wikihow, setting up a man cave requires loads of home entertainment devices such as TVs, video game consoles, computers, and other gadgets, as well as decorations that emphasize the “manliness” of the area. Many will even include small appliances, such as mini refrigerators, to allow cave dwellers to remain in isolation for long periods of time.
IoT devices are going to give home owners lots of new gadgets to put in their homes, making it a dream come true for tech enthusiasts. TVs will become smart TVs. Mini fridges will become smart fridges. Locks will become smart locks. Microsoft recently developed a smart air hockey table using their Windows 10 IoT core, so it seems fair to say the only limit for automating and “smartening” man caves is the imagination (and maybe a little bit of technical know-how).
IoT technologies are going to give guys everywhere a whole new way to conceptualize and design man caves, as well as other rooms in their smart homes. But like many developments in home automation, there are significant security implications to using new devices. Here’s a few suggestion on what to do to keep smart man caves safe and secure.
- Get smart about protection: IoT devices are designed to make living more convenient. But sadly, many manufacturers are not building their smart devices to be particularly secure. Before you surround yourself with devices that connect your life to the Internet, you should give some serious consideration to how you can prevent people from using that connection against you. It’s already been demonstrated that hackers can use IoT devices to monitor and record what’s going on in your home, and security researchers say these problems will become more serious as IoT devices become more popular. Fortunately, security providers are beginning to offer smart protection for people to use to make sure they stay protected as they develop smarter lifestyles.
- Manage your devices: A lot of smart devices contain various sensors and transmitters so they can record data about you and share it with some kind of online service. Samsung’s smart TVs, for example, use voice activation to let you control your TV with your voice. Unfortunately, this means your TV records everything you say, and the company has acknowledged that this data can be shared with third parties. This kind of invasion of privacy could become a serious security risk in the event one of these companies has a data breach, so it’s best to control how devices work to make sure its not recording personal conversations, financial information, etc. Many devices allow you to adjust their functionality through the settings options, and F-Secure Labs’ Karmina Aquino recommends people use this to help protect their personal data.
- Make smart password choices: F-Secure Director of Strategic Threat Research Mika Stahlberg has said that one way hackers will try to hack smart homes is by simply guessing at the passwords used for various devices. This tactic is already being used by hackers to take control of routers used in homes and small offices. The reason for this is because many people will buy small devices, such as routers, and simply never change the passwords set at the factory. These factory-default passwords are readily available on the Internet, so all attackers need to do is match up the password with your device, and then you’re network is compromised. So take a few moments when you’re setting up new devices to choose a decent password. It might take a few extra minutes, but it’s worth it if it keeps hackers and Internet snoops out of your man cave.
[Image by Christian Collins | Flickr]