A smart thermostat may help you heat and cool your house more effectively, monitor your energy consumption, and enable you to operate your home’s heating and air conditioning systems remotely from your smartphone. 

No, smart thermostats are not completely secure. They are one of the component parts of the broad IoT (Internet of Things). They work through network connections and are susceptible to attacks from hackers.

This article will elaborate on and explain why are smart thermostats not secure. Furthermore, the ways and methods of securing smart thermostats as well as the modes of preventing hacking attempts will also be discussed.

What Is The Internet Of Things?

An Internet of Things (IoT) is an information systems phrase that represents the universe of internet-connected “things.” There are currently dozens of these gadgets on the market. 

Well, perhaps due to the numerous diverse sorts of internet-capable gadgets or “things” on the market nowadays. IoT gadgets range from household appliances to smartwatches. It is an IoT device if it is digital or connects to the internet besides computers, cellular phones, and servers. 

An example of an electric vehicle that connects to the internet or receives updates is a Tesla. The automobile is itself a multi-level IoT device. The entirety of your home may be viewed as an IoT ecosystem, often known as home automation. 

Internet-enabled refrigerators, televisions, Amazon Alexa, and your Apple iWatch are IoT devices. The future for the Internet of Things is very promising as will it make tasks easier. Many household activities will be automated through these smart devices.

What Is An Intelligent Thermostat?

The thermostat measures or adjusts temperatures while in some cases it does both and even offers other parameters like humidity control, etc.  Companies like Nest, Honeywell, and Ecobee provide a variety of thermostat models. 

These may be utilized in the house, in structures, and in swimming pools. And there are millions of them around the globe. 

Even these ubiquitous gadgets, which no one ever considers but are present everywhere, have undergone the digital transition and are now connected to the internet.

A groundbreaking move for the modest thermostat, an internet-connected thermostat may interact and communicate with databases that hold temperature data, as well as provide the user with additional alternatives. 

They can assist the user in conserving energy by managing the temperature control system within the area they regulate. They may also be remotely controlled, allowing the user to, for instance, pre-heat or pre-cool his or her home.

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Additionally, smart thermostats were already compromised. Although the thermostat keeps sensitive information, it opens up to cybercrime and the so-called domino effect.

What Do Intelligent Thermostats Work With?

In contrast to conventional and controlled thermostats, most smart thermostats adapt and adjust depending on temperature, humidity, and your family’s activity, such as when you as well as your family are expected to be home, awake, and sleeping. 

These sensors can safeguard your house from harm caused by frozen pipes by warning you if the temperature in your home becomes dangerously low. However, there are also crucial safety concerns to consider.

Your smartphone functions as a remote for your HVAC systems, enabling you to adjust the temperature from anywhere with a signal. Another advantage is the ability to get automated alerts if the heat in your house exceeds or falls below a predetermined level. 

These gadgets allow homeowners who frequently travel or who already have a second house to monitor and control their property.

Important Considerations When Employing Smart Thermostat

With a conventional thermostat, you decrease the temperature when they leave your house during cold weather and increase it when you return. 

With a smartphone-controlled smart thermostat app, you can adjust your system’s temperature to conserve energy from anywhere, and you may be more encouraged to do so. 

Professionals at Travelers Risk Control caution, however, that lowering the thermostat too far may result in frozen pipes. Maintain a temperature of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the inside of wall and floor cavities, where water pipes may be placed, from freezing.

Smart thermostats, being a component of the Internet of Things, are susceptible to cyber intrusions and privacy issues.  As there is less motivation for attackers to target these devices, you may believe that they pose less of a security risk than locks or other safety smart gadgets. 

However, smart thermostats might provide information about your everyday movements that a burglar may find useful. Instead of relying on Wi-Fi, it would be good for households to ensure that their gadgets are difficult to access from the public Internet. 

Before deciding to purchase a smart thermostat, select a robust password and assess any special security problems. As with any intelligent gadget, ensure that it is interoperable with other devices or hubs, as not all devices interact effectively with one another. 

It is possible that the package for these smart devices does not contain thorough installation instructions; thus, you may choose to see a professional for assistance with their installation. It is crucial to install the device accurately.  

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In a world where cyber threats are rising, it is not crazy to be careful with every piece of technology you possess. Given the current state of information security, even a small amount of worry is quite appropriate. 

Cyber hazards have already surpassed natural disasters, to put this in the most direct terms possible. For the very first time in history, global cyber insurance firms have determined that digital risks are bigger than real-world hazards. 

Due to these factors, it is not surprising that IoT devices pose a significant threat. Unbelievably, even a programmable thermostat poses a privacy and security issue these days. A malicious user can attempt to obtain valuable personal user data or allow further penetration into the connected network and devices that the thermostat is on. 

What Are The Potential Cybersecurity Threats?

The danger is inherent in all internet-enabled products and services. This is comparable to being a little animal in the open savanna, vulnerable to all types of predators if not well protected.

You interface with the internet through a router, which transfers packets of data back and forth between your devices and the internet. 

If you have a large number of IoT devices, each of them is always linked to the internet or exchanging data via your network. At the origin, your router connects with a telephone that links to a street-level switching box.

A cybersecurity risk is the possibility of data breaches, which in the context of the Internet of Things refers to misconfigured or unprotected IoT devices. If adequate cybersecurity safeguards are not implemented, these gadgets can be intercepted, hacked, sabotaged, and more.

Given the amount of personal and confidential information transmitted and stored by IoT devices, there is a threat to privacy as well as a security breach or information leakage risk. Unsecured Internet of Things devices are always vulnerable.

How Does A Smart Thermostat Pose A Cyberthreat?

A smart thermostat doesn’t really store sensitive or personally identifiable information (PII). The issue, though, would be that smart thermostats collect personal information about you. 

These gadgets collect information on your home and away status, sleeping habits, favorite temperatures, and more. Similar to any other IoT system, a smart thermostat provides an access point for fraudsters and hackers. 

To put things in perspective, a smart thermostat device installed in a casino was compromised, allowing hackers to travel laterally through the network and eventually get access to other databases including client financial information. Oftentimes, the IoT device thisn’e target of a breach, but rather the domain controller or other sensitive server or machine is.

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The reason smart devices are attacked so much is because they are usually poorly secured and on the same virtual local area network (VLAN) as other sensitive devices. In this case, you must use network segmentation and keep your crown jewels separate from the less secure thermostats, refrigerators, etc. This prevents an attacker from moving laterally and pivoting from the IoT device network to the finance or HR network for example.

Hackers can capture the communication, as equipment such as thermostats is typically not highly secured. In terms of privacy, because we are living in the age of online advertising, the information supplied by your thermostat about your activities might be utilized for ad targeting. 

This is, so to speak, an unauthorized modification of your data and an invasion of your life. By 2025, it is anticipated that there would be approximately 80 million IoT devices worldwide. This is a huge development as the digital world is evolving at a rapid speed. 

It is anticipated that this market will be valued at over $6 trillion. In wealthy nations, there are currently an average of hundreds of IoT devices in each household. 

This is effectively a playground for hackers, where they can sneak into the system without anyone knowing. Configuring the settings for IoT devices is crucial, as is establishing a difficult password for the network to which they are all linked. 

Because it encrypts (jumbles) your data traffic, utilizing a VPN or Virtual Private Network (At the router level as well as on devices if possible) will dramatically prevent identity theft and data breaches.

Conclusion

In light of the above-mentioned arguments and circumstances, it can be said that Smart Thermostats like other gadgets are not completely secure. However, preventive measures can be taken in this regard to avoid successful cyber attacks. 

These devices have become a necessity in today’s day, and age and will impact the future. Their usage cannot be avoided but can only be regulated and protected. The use of a secure network segmentation and protection of the device from unwanted physical access will help keep the device safe.