Smart Home – Are you At risk of Surveillance or Hacking? A Comparative Analysis of Smart Home Automation Technologies in the UAE

It seems as if anything with software running it, or anything electronic has the possibility of being hacked. Worst, the authorities want a way into anything and everything that stores, collects, or disseminates information. But then if the authorities have a back-door, or a way in, so too does anyone who wants to find access to hack in, which i would say; “therein lies the problem. ” Okay so, let’s talk about the Smart Grid type electricity meters, and the proverbial smart house computer systems if we might.9 Smart Home Trends for 2021 | BuddyCompany

There was a rather troubling article خانه هوشمند in the Wall Street Journal on August 3, 2013 titled; “Smart Homes Are a Hacking Risk, ” by Danny Yadron. The article discusses how a hacker can hack into your house and open up the security system, dead bolt, and get in without even being there. That’s a scary thought and although it was done truly for bragging rights at a Las vegas hackers convention, that doesn’t make anyone feel safer by a long-shot.

If you have a smart home which is set up to run the most efficient way, then there are systems to control everything, once your home is wired up, it comes alive, like “HAL” and can take care of nearly all your needs for climate control, lighting, energy saving, internet access, cooking, refrigeration, and you name it. It can upload information, patches, and new software, and it can alert you, where ever you are by remote if there is an intruder. Unless someone were to shut off that function of course, meaning you might turn it off yourself or maybe someone else you don’t know might do so by remote.

If you remember the movie Poltergeist you might find that mild to what mischief your smart home can come up with when a hacker is running the program. Remember, these days nothing is safe. The Pentagon is hacked into by the Chinese, Credit card companies and Banks by hackers, and now they are getting into mobile payments on smart phones too. Hackers have taken over the navigation system in Super Yachts, hacked into UAV military drone video feeds, and Wifi systems from 60-miles away on top of a wayward mountain – so tell me, just how safe do you really believe your future smart house might be?

The Smart Home Automation industry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been growing at a rapid pace since its dawn over the last several years. The market is becoming more and more aware of the capabilities of having a complete automation system whether at the scale of individual residences, palaces, real estate developments, and hotels. Many developments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have already been completed with a pre-installed automation system. Many developments in areas like Victory Heights, Arabian Ranches, Sports City, and Reem Island have also been built with infrastructure to support such technologies in the future.

In basic form, automation includes systems that control Lighting, Appliances, HVAC, Curtains and Multimedia. The market in the UAE has not only begun to realize the benefits in terms of comfort, security, and luxury. But also in terms of energy saving and increasing property value, thus all these realizations will continue to lead to a booming market in the UAE.

As automation is somewhat of a new technology in the mainstream market, one must be aware of the countless number of underlying technologies that connect and allow for the communication between a user and the Light Dimming Systems or Air conditioning Systems. On the surface, these technologies may seem to lead to the same functionality, but in the back-end, they are different in potentially catastrophic ways. This leads us to the reason why we started composing this article, that is, to shed light onto the pros and cons of the different technologies (regardless of product or vendor) which are available in the UAE market today.

Any automation system is composed of 2 high-level components, the controller, and the modules. The modules include light dimmers, relay switches, thermostats, motorized curtain control systems, distributed speakers.. etc. which are to be controlled by the home owner. The controller, is the heart of the system from which signals are sent to “Dim the lights” or “turn on the air conditioning”. The method of communication between the controller and the modules are the Automation Communication Technology which we wish to address in this article. The method of communication can either be through wires or wireless and are usually in line with certain protocols or standards of communication. This article will explore and compare KNX, X10, Zigbee, En-Ocean, and Z-wave.