6 Challenges With Smart Home App Development and How to Solve Them

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6 Challenges With Smart Home App Development and How to Solve Them

Want to learn more about the top challenges when developing your smart home app? Check out this post on the top six challenges in smart home app development.

· IoT Zone ·
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During the summer, my team and I were working on this smart home automation project, and boy…

It all seems nice and easy to let your user unlock their doors from anywhere or adjust the lighting to set the mood. But, a lot of expertise goes into developing a software that is capable of allowing users to gain control over their home.

It sounds fascinating, like living in a house with the utmost comfort. But, a certain level of technical experience and smartness is needed to build a complete app with software integration.

Well, thanks to the Internet of Things and its limitless possibilities, we were able to build an app project. Interested in knowing how we overcame these major IoT challenges and developed a masterpiece? Keep reading folks!

Before We Move any Further, Let us Understand What the Internet of Things Smart Home Is

It is always better to have a good understanding of the technology before starting any project. For us, we started documenting how the technology works, who are the target users, and — most importantly — issues with current products. To start with the simplest definition of IoT:

IoT, or the Internet of Things, is a network of connected physical things that can be accessed through the Internet.

When we talk about the smart home app system, it involves controlling the smart objects (things) in your home. It might include lights, electric appliances, CCTVs, ACs, door locks, fire alarm, and the list is endless. So basically, the smart devices are connected to a specified cloud network. Different brands have their own services including, Amazon, Google, LG, etc.

How Does Amazon’s Alexa Do It?

Ever thought about how Alexa magically does whatever it is told? Okay, but not always — duh!

Source: https://twitter.com/mikestokoe/status/893502081457414148

Whenever you change the device setting, it sends a message to the respective controller smart thing and makes the changes. The devices connected with Alexa can be controlled by a device cloud. As the controller receives signal, it controls the device as it is told. It will turn on the light or make your geyser ready right before you wake up!

Let’s Talk About the Problems That you Might Face

Developing smart home automation app software comes with its own security concerns and challenges.

However promising the future looks, IoT has some risk factors. First, let's think about the information gathered by your favorite smart devices, for example, a smart thermostat. It can easily tell anyone about:

  • When you’re away from your home
  • When you’re usually at your place
  • When you’re most likely on vacation
  • Which of your rooms is most used and unused

If information like this goes unbarred into the wrong hands, just think of the end results! Attackers can easily break into your place when you’re away. Imagine this kind of risk in enterprise theft and the level of loss!

So, it is evident that IoT is significantly increasing some inevitable security risks for both consumers and businesses. Each and every device that connects and communicates with you through the Internet is unbarred for attackers. Without further ado, let’s go straight into the challenges and security threats.

1. Multiple Devices and Multiple Apps: a Big No No

What if a user has two different brands of smart devices for his home? Like Alexa and Nest? He has to download a bunch of different apps to control the device and enable communication. The controller for the Alexa app will not receive the directive sent by Nest, which is quite obvious. This, in return, increases the hassles of users as it gives a bad user experience. Each time you try to control a device, you have to open a new app!

Source: https://marketoonist.com/2017/01/virtualassistants.html

To solve this, we brought APIs onto the scene. Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are the code that allows different software components to literally ‘talk’ to each other. Different companies have their own APIs. And, we can literally build third-party services to make the devices from different brands interact with the app.

Thus, we made a single app for the users to take control of all their smart devices.

2. How the Complex IoT Architecture Magnifies Cyber Risks

IoT creates a bigger network of devices, which adds to the associated risks. In simple terms, there are more than 3 billion mobile users globally and almost 8 billion IoT devices. So, you can imagine the enormity of the network that can be compromised or hacked. When it comes to smart homes, imagine the gravity of the threat.

For instance, a user connecting his smart light with his app is giving away the information of his

  • Presence at home,
  • When he leaves his home
  • And, when he reaches another location

He is exposing himself to an unintended compromise. A potential hacker can not only access his personal information but can also sneak into the home network and access endless amounts of information! So, while we develop the smart home automation app, we must take extra precautions, making sure the controller, device data, and the cloud are unhackable.

3. A Lot Of Complex Vulnerabilities With Smart Home App

It was not very long ago when the news of spying a two-year-old baby using web-connected baby monitors broke out. This incident is enough eye-opening about the amount of risk IoT comes with. It can compromise the security level for both consumers and enterprises alike. For instance, think of a large scale home security surveillance. Once the attackers get hold of the device, the results can be devastating! He could alter data and make way for his entrance. So, there is still some ambiguity in understanding the vulnerabilities and the seriousness of the threat.

For every IoT project, especially smart home automation app, it is imperative to design your project and keep a security model in mind. And, you must never underestimate the risks that come with IoT devices.

4. Some Of The Major Legal Risks Associated With IoT(for all industry)

Internet of Things definitely has more hazards than just technological risks. IoT is known to affect a lot of legal underpinnings, like data protection, product liability, data sovereignty, etc. Since a lot of data is involved, it becomes difficult to determine which laws can be applied in case of dispute.

For example, if a driverless car gets into an accident, who is liable? The manufacturer, the owner, or the passenger riding the car? This is one of the major risks of any IoT project, which can draw a conclusion only after lengthy court proceedings.

Think about the level of complexity when it comes to enterprise level IoT projects!

5. The Riskiest Cybersecurity Threat-Buffer Overflow

What is buffer overflow? It is a situation when a program/process attempts to write more data to a fixed block of buffer or memory that the buffer is supposed to hold (as per Tech Target).

Buffer overflows are one of the major targets of hackers who aim to exploit any IoT system. It is caused when data overruns buffer’s boundary and, hence, overwrites the previous memory locations. This results in corrupting the important stored data. A lot of confidential information is on the stake. Hackers can easily take over the control of IoT devices.

We took charge and made sure that no such loose ends are there. Whether it was choosing the right architecture or the API integrations, our team was ready for the challenge.

6. One Of The Most Common Attacks: Denial of Service Attacks

Unfortunately, DDoS, or Denial of Service Attacks, are the most common attacks for IoT-related projects. It makes the web server go down, as there is a massive amount of traffic coming from the web, and the web server has to deal with it. Since IoT is present in a lot of devices, like wearables, and there is a huge network of sensors connected to the Internet, DDoS attacks can harm organizations in a serious way. Some of the most crucial effects of DDoS we noticed were:

  • Electromagnetic jamming that prevents your RFID tag to communicate with readers and prevents information exchange.
  • The attack on a wired or wireless network by sending a huge amount of traffic to a certain network, making the server inefficient to respond fast.

So, a lot went into finalizing the flow of the app and customizing it according to the user demand. Not only that, we had to overcome all of the above-mentioned challenges. Hope this helps!

alexa, connected devices, cybersecurity, iot, smart devices, smart home, threat

Published at DZone with permission of Swarnendu De , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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