How Does the Internet of Things Impact Home Security?

Written by Peter Rogers of Frontpoint Security
Updated June 15, 2021
Many newer home security startup companies are building their systems around the Internet of Things. (Photo courtesy of Frontpoint Security)

The Internet of Things is connecting us in more ways than ever before, but what does that mean for your home security system?

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There’s little doubt that many of us are feeling more “plugged in” these days, at many levels. Social media, mobile applications and other interactive technologies allow us to stay connected with each other, our workplaces and even with our homes more than ever before.

And while we may sometimes question if those 24/7 links are always a good thing, the trend toward more connectivity is probably going to continue, even when it comes to home security.

The Internet of things

One reason for this unprecedented level of interaction and information is a phenomenon called the Internet of Things (IoT) – or the larger connectivity of objects over the Internet. 

The term has entered our lexicon for good, and it sounds as if anything with an IP address can now talk to us, and talk to other devices with an IP address. But what is the practical application?

Plethora of devices

Various studies estimate that the total sum of IoT devices will reach 25-30 billion by the year 2020

That’s an awful lot of devices talking to each other – and to us, as long as we have any connection to the Internet. And who doesn’t already have that kind of access, much or most of the time? Just look at the remarkably fast upward trend in smart phones sales for that answer.

Home automation panel
Developments in technology enable you to control your security system through more devices. (Photo by Eric Priddy)

What IoT means for home security

Home security isn’t immune to the IoT wave. In fact, we’ve seen many of the newer home security startup companies build their systems around the IoT. Is this the way the industry is headed? 

Only time will tell, but let’s look at how the IoT affects home security right now.

• Shaky communication security: Let’s remember that some communication channels offer more peace of mind than the Internet, especially for home security applications. The best alarm systems do not use Wifi for the remote sensors to communicate an alarm to the control unit in the home – they use a more secure and reliable wireless path. And when it comes to how your alarm system will signal an intrusion to the monitoring center, critical communication should decidedly not be over the Internet. 

• “Hackable” equipment? There are some justifiable concerns that the new wave of Internet-only home technologies – some of which are being marketed as home security – are easier to “hack” than the equipment traditionally provided by established manufacturers of home security equipment. Real alarm companies use real alarm equipment, almost all of which operates on proprietary (and much safer) networks designed for higher levels of data integrity.

Home automation computer
More homeowners are opting to monitor their security systems on their own. But make sure you have the right equipment. (Photo by Ray Black III)

• Cellular is safer: Another important consideration is how your alarm system talks with the outside world, meaning with you and the professional monitoring center. If this important communication path runs over the Internet, than the alarm system can be easily disabled by a burglar.

• Security systems need fail-safes: An Internet-based system has no way to send an alarm signal to the monitoring station once that communication path is gone. That means no police dispatch, and the intruder has the run of your home. Not exactly what you call peace of mind! 

Ask the right questions

As more homeowners add monitored home security for peace of mind – especially with advanced interactive features that allow you to feel connected as well as protected - it just makes sense to be sure you have the right technology. 

We know the Internet of Things is all the rage, and will continue to dominate the technology news – but that does not mean it’s the best solution for protecting your home and family. 

So when you are shopping for home security, make sure you really understand what you are getting – and how it works. You’ll be glad you did.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story originally published Dec. 4, 2015

About this Experts Contributor: Peter Rogers is the co-founder of Frontpoint Security, providing home security services in Washington D.C. and throughout the United States. Since 2007, Frontpoint has specialized in cellular monitoring connections and amazing interactive features that help protect your home. You can follow this contributor on Twitter and Google+.

As of April 20, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List. 

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