Balasys PrivaHome project focuses on the smart home environment. Home automation includes a wide range of smart devices providing services and executing physical tasks. The diversity of smart home products is already mind-blowing: from speakers to window blinds, cooking utensils and light bulbs, anything and everything can connect to the internet. IoT in private homes also means a vast amount of data transfer.
Smart devices collect and share data that are relevant to their functionality. Some of these data, however, may also serve third-party interests: with our connected devices, we practically invited marketers into our homes – and many others arrive uninvited and with less obvious intentions. In short, smart homes are basically a sitting duck for cybercriminals. With that in mind, the Balasys PrivaHome project is primarily focused on the privacy and security issues faced by homeowners. It is our mission to empower citizens to make smart decisions regarding their smart home environments.
We do that by providing tools for a better understanding of potential risks, as well as a capable device control technology that helps enforce the decisions citizens make. The first step to make that happen is providing smart home owners with knowledge about how IoT and smart devices work. It is also vital that they understand the nature of threats an unauthorized access may pose. Add to that the power imbalance between citizens and tech companies – in favor of the latter – and you will see why we consider it our mission to provide transparency and awareness.
Privacy at home
For the sake of transparency, we encourage smart home owners to make sure network traffic in their smart home environment is inspected and analyzed, either locally or in a cloud infrastructure. Awareness comes from making informed decisions based on the analysis of traffic. To that end, it must be provided in a comprehensible, user-friendly format. With all the exciting features smart homes have to offer, privacy issues and data protection policies are easy to neglect. Given the fact that privacy and security focused user-centric controls are in many cases explicitly missing from IoT devices, the prevailing ignorance is alarming in so many ways it is difficult to count. Therefore, it is our job to draw the attention of homeowners to these issues and then propose solutions, such as the external means (e.g. in a security-oriented router) to enforce technical control over data traffic.