Establishing Security in the Automatic Age

By Dwight Spivey

Passwords are everywhere. If passwords were tangible things, your world would be one huge alphanumeric soup, with letters and numbers and symbols lying all about, falling from the sky, dangling from trees, and generally creating all manner of chaos. They proliferate everything in our digital lives. Everyone with electronic devices have passwords (and usernames) for accessing the following and more:

  • Computer

  • Smartphone

  • Tablet

  • Email

  • Bank account

  • App store accounts

  • Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the list goes on and on)

  • Streaming video subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, and so forth)

  • Online retail stores (Amazon and the like)

  • Viewing your kids’ grades online

  • Internet service provider account

  • Television service provider account

  • Accounts for all the home automation devices you’ll purchase

There are even software constructs, such as Apple’s Keychain in its OS X operating system, which keeps all the passwords you have for all your accounts in one encrypted, safe place. Of course, you have to remember your Keychain password, but remembering one is better than remembering 50.

Keeping electronic things secure has become a way of life for most, and keeping homes secure has been a priority since man moved into his first cave a few millennia ago.

Keeping your eyes homeward

There are any number of scenarios you can dream up for keeping tabs on your home while you aren’t there:

  • What happens if your kids are home but don’t have their keys? They can call you and you could use the passcode on your iPhone’s app to unlock the deadbolt, or they could use their own smartphones to do so.

  • You’re on vacation and no one is home, but you get a motion-detection alert on your Android tablet. Time to call the police to check it out.

  • The baby is sleeping but you’re afraid to go wash clothes on the other end of the house because you might not hear her if she wakes. No ­problem: Just use the Wi-Fi camera in her room and its app on your smart device to keep an eye on and an ear out for her.

That barely scratches the surface of what homeowners and parents can imagine when it comes to security needs, but you get the picture.

Locking things down

You have four main ways to making your home more secure:

  • Alarms

    Home alarms have been around for decades, but these days, your alarm won’t just make a loud noise to wake the neighbors, or alert only the security company. You can now be advised, via an app on your smart device, when an alarm has been triggered. You can also reset the alarm from afar, without having to get up from your beach chair when on vacation.

  • Locks

    You can lock or unlock smart locks with an app on your smart device. Some of them even allow access to your locks from computers through a web browser. And for those moments when you feel like going old school, you can also still use a key.

  • Cameras

    Web cameras have been around for a while, too, and you’ve even been able to view their streams from remote computers using web browsers. Now that smartphones and tablets are here, you can view your webcam from just about anywhere, provided you have access to the Internet.

  • Motion detectors

    Again, motion detectors are nothing new for some folks, but the way you can interact with them from your smart devices opens a whole new world of security possibilities.