Why you shouldn’t be afraid of the Smart Home

When you make a house your home, it develops its own rhythm. For some people it’s a peaceful silence, a gentle hum, for other people it’s a manic school run every morning. Where technology only used to play along to this soundtrack, we’re now entering a time when devices like your fridge could be actively listening to it. We’re entering the age of the smart home. So how comfortable are you with smart technology?

Home security, are you in control?

We feel anxious when situations are beyond our control. Think back, for example, to a time when you’ve chosen to let the dog off the lead, compared to when the cheeky thing’s made a run for it while you had your back turned. The reality is not so different – the dog’s having a great time – but in the first instance you chose to let it happen, confident he would come back as soon as you call.

From a psychological perspective, we don’t even have to be in control to feel at ease, we just need to believe we are. However, as smart technology becomes more prevalent in our homes, we need more than just perceived control.

The smartest smart home technology has top security in its software.

In a quest to bring the internet of things into every home as quickly (and cheaply) as possible, many manufacturers are cutting costs by focusing on the hardware and neglecting the software. The hardware is the bit that’s simpler to understand – does it look good enough to be part of your home?

Software issues can be more challenging. Last week thousands of ‘smart’ devices were hacked in a worldwide cyber security breach which hit major websites like twitter and Reddit. It turns out that a lot of the low-budget products on the market use default passwords and can’t be updated with software patches when vulnerabilities are discovered.

Making the smart home secure.

However, the smartest smart devices, like Cocoon, protect you by protecting themselves. Focusing on security is how we’ve been able to make sure that the technology that protects your space doesn’t also put it in jeopardy. It’s adaptable, and it keeps you in control of your home, your data, and your security.

Given that your home is the most important place in your life – the space of your family, pets, sounds, silence, memories, and future – you want it to be safe and comfortable. It is possible to ride the wave of innovation by finding smart home technology that suits you, making your life simple and more secure. Cocoon is an example of technology designed to do just that.

Technology in your home that makes your life simpler

If you have any questions about Cocoon, and how we ensure the very best levels of security, let us know. We’re here to help and love hearing from you. Email us on [email protected], or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

We’re putting privacy at the heart of home security

Your privacy and security are of paramount importance. From the very first moment Cocoon burst into existence we’ve put your privacy first. Our team have high-level experience in the world’s leading internet security companies, including McAfee and Trend Micro, and that expertise means that firewalls and encryption are just the basic layers of Cocoon’s security. The way it works also means you can relax at home in privacy, feeling safe in the knowledge that Cocoon is there for you.

Prior to launch, an external security company tested our systems for weaknesses. The concluding report declared that “the Cocoon device and its supporting services have been developed to a high standard. It is clear that the technology team and developers within the organisation have a high degree of knowledge with regard to information security issues“.

We believe that security shouldn’t cost you your privacy. See 8 ways Cocoon secures your privacy below.

Cocoon offers home security that's smart, simple and designed to protect what you care about most while respecting your privacy.

8 Ways Cocoon Secures Your Privacy

1.  Auto arm/disarm. Cocoon automatically activates alerts when you leave home, and disables them when you get home. This means Cocoon is not only hassle free, but also that your home life stays private.

2.  Minimal Cloud Storage. Cocoon only pushes data to the cloud when there’s an alert or you stream live video. Everything else is stored locally in 30 second cycles, with old data continually burnt over. If there’s an alert the previous 20 seconds are also sent to the cloud to make sure you never miss a thing.

3.  You’ll know if they’re peeking! If someone in your household live streams video then the LED light on your Cocoon will start flashing so, if you’re in the room, you can say hello!

4.  No extra sensors. Cocoon uses Subsound® so doesn’t need cameras and sensors in other rooms. It listens for sound waves inaudible to humans, that travel throughout rooms and floors, so can protect your whole home without listening and watching your every move.

5.  Encryption. This is the more technical bit, but is vital for privacy and security. Your video is encrypted at rest and in transmission (256bit AES). All communications from your Cocoon to our servers are over https encrypted links and no inward connections are allowed.

6.  Your phone is key. The Cocoon app is where you’ll receive alerts but also is the access key to your encrypted data. Cocoon never stores your access keys, that’s a private link between your Cocoon and your household’s phones, so you can be sure it’s secure.

7.  It’s all inside Cocoon. Your Cocoon learns the sounds of your home to minimise false alarms. No data or analysis ever leaves your household, it all happens inside your Cocoon.

8.  Penetration testing. It’s important that we don’t have the final say, so we regularly get external security companies to test our systems to make sure your privacy is as secure as possible!

If you have any thoughts, questions or feedback we’re here to help so please do get in touch via email or our website’s live chat.


Who’s watching who?

Many customers I speak to haven’t considered the potential of connected devices to compromise the privacy of our homes.  Indeed I’ve been urged not to write this blog post so as not to draw attention to the issue.  I believe though that the smart home industry must confront the issue head on highlighting not just the problem but the solutions.

Security vendors are compromising privacy

Recently a website published 73,000 live streams from security cameras accessible using their manufacturer’s default password.  Many streams were from cameras made by Foscam, a vendor in the news earlier in the year when a man accessed a Foscam baby monitor and screamed at the sleeping child through it.  This is not a new issue, Forbes showed how traditional alarm vendor ADT’s security systems allow anyone to monitor what’s happening inside your home but the problem is greater when devices are Internet connected.

At Cocoon we take privacy seriously – we don’t expect our customers to invest time configuring security settings and our founding team have a rich information security pedigree.  This is an industry issue though – consumer confidence in the whole smart home market will be affected by security scares so all vendors must play their part.

Privacy requires more than best practice

Avoiding basic lapses is a start but the Snowden revelations showed that even competent companies cannot guarantee to protect their customers’ data from a state intent on accessing it.

Since we launched our crowd funding campaign, we’ve been approached by a number of investment funds.  One approach came (via email) from In-Q-Tel.  We’d not heard of them but their site explains:

“We identify, adapt, and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and broader U.S. Intelligence Community.”

We’re confident our customers wouldn’t want a Cocoon in their home were we associated with an organisation known for covert monitoring.  We didn’t and won’t pursue the matter but customers need a stronger guarantee of privacy if connected devices are to be at the heart of their most personal space.

Data must stay under the customer’s control

It’s not sufficient to ensure only that hackers cannot access data but that sovereign governments acting within the laws of the host state cannot force a smart home vendor to facilitate widespread covert monitoring.  Smart home vendors that care about privacy must design into products technical guarantees that assure customer data stays under the control of the customer.  If the data never passes to the vendor, they cannot leak it.  Contrary to some commentators, we believe this can be achieved whilst enjoying the benefits and ease of use the cloud has to offer.

Cocoon uses public-key cryptography to encrypt video and other sensor data before it leaves the home.  The key to decrypt the data resides only on our customers’ smartphone – they control the phone and with it access to their data.  The data stream passing through our cloud is unreadable to us and the decryption key needed to make sense of it resides only on the owner’s smart phone.  Since we cannot view or access data from customers’ homes, not only can we not leak customer data to hackers, we cannot pass it to anyone – even governments.