Everybody uses them: wall switches for ceiling lighting, foot switches for floor lamps and switches for table lamps. And they are often used quite frequently, because different situations in life require different ambient lighting. Watching television in a comfortable ambience means a different setting than eating or working with a laptop. Switching all these light sources on and off all the time can become a bit of a nuisance. So why not control everything from your smartphone?
Smart lighting enables you to define ambient light scenarios that not only determine which lamps are on, but also how bright and in what color they shine. This opens up completely new possibilities for lighting design at home, which can be adapted to furnishings, the user’s mood or his current activity.
Intelligent lighting can pose a risk
Companies also benefit from intelligent lighting: changing the color of lighting during the day can increase employee productivity, for example. In hospitals it is even supposed to improve the well-being of patients and promote faster healing.
Despite all the benefits, intelligent lighting can also be a risk. Because intelligent lamps are typically connected directly or via a gateway to a WiFi network and controlled via an app downloaded from the Internet, privacy or security can be compromised. There have already been reports that discarded devices revealed their WiFi password. The WiFi password was stored unencrypted in the lamp’s flash memory and was read by cybersecurity specialists.
Smart devices – a gateway for cyberattacks?
Fortunately, the manufacturer fixed the problem in this case with a software update, but there are many insecure smart devices used in homes, offices and hospitals. The danger is not primarily that a lamp is retrieved from the garbage bin. However, it is conceivable that such smart devices could be stolen from a home, hotel, office or hospital as part of a more sophisticated cyber attack. Attackers could then attempt to gain WiFi access and then enter a network via such a side channel.
The good news is that users of smart lighting systems can take measures to protect themselves. For example, smart devices should not be operated in the same WiFi segment as conventional IT devices. Business and consumer routers can be configured to host at least two or more separate WiFi networks, one for smart devices and the other for conventional IT.
Take a look at the small print
Another aspect that is often underestimated is that intelligent devices can also transfer data about their operating status to a manufacturer’s server – data that says a lot about the user’s lifestyle. For example: Is anybody home? When do the home owners go to bed? When do they get up? How often do they go to the bathroom at night?
How can consumers protect themselves? Here are some useful tips:
• Did you change the default passwords for your IT devices and smartphones?
• Configure your network securely. If in doubt, ask an expert.
• Finally, if the manufacturer does not meet your security and privacy requirements, simply choose another vendor.