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Jeremy Harris

Nest home security?

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It seems that Google/Nest are launching an "Internet of Things" full home security system, with an alarm, internet connected video etc: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-41336093

 

Sounds an interesting idea, BUT, and it's a big BUT, would I want to trust Google with all that data about our house?  Given their track record for what I believe is abuse of personal data, I'm not at all sure I'd want to trust a our home security to such a system.  It's bound to become a prime target for hackers, and as a former IT security colleague was very fond of reminding us at any opportunity, you can never be 100% sure that any internet connected system is secure.  The same individual was also fond of reminding us that we spent many times more on our network security, per user, than practically any other organisation, and he still couldn't be 100% sure our systems were secure.

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I do generally like Google products and applications but... Really... £367 for 1 motion sensor, 1 keypad and 1 tag. They gotta be kidding. 

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I am sure the specs will be ok but, as you say Jeremy, there is a question of trust and security. Whilst I like the idea of having a relatively intelligent automated interconnected home I can't imagine it taking long before there are hacks for it.

Nor am I  confident that I am willing to balance any gain against the price of giving away privacy. Google may be a relatively benign behemoth today but what is to say they will continue to be so tomorrow. Google's track record speaks for itself.

Edited by Siochair

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I think part of the security problem is 'cloud storage'.  I have a Kindle, I like it, can read books and watch movies on it.  And it only cost 40 quid.

I had an encrypted file which I wanted to read, so popped it onto the kindle, unencrypted it, read it, closed it down and deleted it.

I thought that was the end of it.

Imagine my surprise when I was browsing my file system and noticed that the file was still there.

I think what happened was that it copied the file to the built in cloud storage from the Kindle, and I only deleted the local copy.

 

Also we may have trouble with OSs.  The open source people always claim that anyone is free to look at the source code, but I doubt if there is a person on earth that could  actually do that and find anything sneaky hidden in there.  Maybe a team of highly skilled software people might be able to.

So we rely on trust a great deal.

It may be time to start using less software and more hardware, at the expense of less convenience and versatility.

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I agree about cloud storage, and cannot for the life of me see why people seem to think that "free" cloud storage is provided to them by the benevolence of companies that make a great deal of money.  Where do these people think the company revenue stream is, for goodness sake?  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that somehow the company giving you the "free" storage is extracting something from you of value, which it is then selling or using to generate revenue.

 

The same model has been used for years by store "loyalty" cards, and more recently supermarket in-store self-scanners.  When Waitrose introduced these they were giving them a hard sell on the door, so I asked if I could read the terms and conditions.  Sure enough, by signing up for one you agree to the John Lewis Group being able to use all the data on your shopping habits, payment methods etc, both for their own use and for that of selected third parties.  In other words, the scanners are paid for by the customers data being used or sold on for marketing purposes.

 

When it comes to open source software security, I'm not so convinced that there aren't a lot of people around who genuinely spend masses of time looking for exploits and getting them corrected.  There does seem to be a hard core of privacy and security aware people who are committed to trying to keep stuff as secure and private as they can, at least for as long as the software remains at the stage where it is developed by enthusiasts.  Once you get to the stage where allegedly open source code ends up being controlled by large software companies (and Android and Google is a good example, as is Ubuntu and Canonical) then things get messy, quickly.  Android is dire in terms of privacy, really, really dire.  Put a packet sniffer on a connection from any Android device and the amount of hidden data being sent to mainly Google servers is staggering, much of it completely irrelevant to the applications being used.  Once I'd seen just how much stuff was being transmitted back (why does Google need to know my GPS location if I want to use the email app, for example?) I rooted my Android tablet and am now running LineageOS, with no Google integration at all, not even the PlayStore.  It's very fast, compared to the Sony version of Android that was loaded originally, and the only downside is having to side load apps from known to be good APK files, but one major benefit is that the tablet battery lasts around 30% longer than it used to.  Another benefit is that my data usage has gone down a fair bit.  I only use a handful of apps on it, anyway, and one neat feature is that the best open source mapping software doesn't need an internet connection to work - it allows you to download maps and run them locally when there's no data signal available.

Edited by JSHarris

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