Endpoint/Device Security, IoT

Should MSSPs Offer Smart Home IoT Device Security?

Plenty of MSPs offer home support to their top business customers and/or friends of the company. We often call these service requests "FOS's," referring to the fact that these "customers" were a "Friend of Steve's" -- the owner of the MSP that employed us.

But cloud, mobile and IoT technology are complicating the picture. Employees with all types of responsibilities now work anywhere in the world -- including their homes. And smart home technologies are proliferating.

Indeed,  over 41% of people already leverage smart home technology, according to ReportLinker. The potential result: Those employees working from home have IoT devices that could increasingly pose a risk to the business security.

Smart Home IoT Adoption

The stats from the recent survey from ReportLinker prove that homes are becoming smarter every day. Almost two-thirds of the people surveyed say that smart home devices make their life easier or their home more energy-efficient. Half of those that currently use smart home technology say they have one to two automation devices installed at home, while a third say they have five or more. Among those that are not currently using any types of smart home devices, 37% said that they are likely to buy a device in the near future.

The types of smart home devices are also increasing, as people adopt more and more ways to connect with their home. Connected appliances, such as an oven you can preheat before you arrive at home, seem to top the list of the various smart home devices people are currently using.

Home Automation: What's Used

Smart home automation adoption so far includes...

  • Connected appliances (20%)
  • Smart thermostats (16%)
  • Smart security systems like cameras (12%)
  • Smart lighting solutions (10%)
  • Smart locks (6%)
  • Smart leak detectors (5%)
  • Smart window shades (3%)
  • Other (1%)

Hardly surprising, voice assistant technology like the Amazon Echo and Google Home also are gaining favor. More than a third of those who responded to the survey have already purchased one of these speakers and are currently using them on a daily basis. While there are many things these speakers can do that haven't even been explored yet, it looks like most people are using it to play their music.

Voice Assistant: What's the Purpose?

So, how are consumers using those voice assistants? Here are the most common answers:

  • Playing music or videos (63%)
  • Checking the weather (47%)
  • Hearing the news (32%)
  • Control other smart home devices (28%)
  • Product or service research (26%)
  • Shopping (19%)
  • Manage Calendar (14%)
  • Other (13%)

Smart Home Devices: Risks and Rewards?

Privacy concerns are on the top of the list for the drawbacks to these kinds of devices at 31% of the people surveyed. These devices are always connected to the Internet and are constantly collecting data.

In the case of the smart home speakers, they are also always listening. Privacy shouldn't be the only concern people have with smart home devices though. Lax security on these devices is a huge concern for businesses. It is a lot easier for a malicious person to tap into these devices in their attack than it is for them to use a computer on the same network for the attack, I believe based on my own IT services experience.

Where MSSPs Fit In

As smart home devices proliferate, I believe MSSP home support will not just be limited to the FOS's of the world. I suspect IT service desks at your local MSP will also need to support more devices inside an employee's home than before. Are you ready to lock down those IoT devices -- or at least protect your customers from there potential security holes?

Sarah Kimmel is a former IT service desk manager for a well-known MSP. She blogs for MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E.