Smart Homes and the Dark Web

• • Broadband, Smart Home

You set up your customers’ smart homes with every safety protocol in place, and secure their wired network in high-quality enclosures.  How do you ensure their smart home is protected beyond the physical boundaries of their house? Simple. Send them to the dark web.

The dark web is part of the deep web, and your customers use the it almost daily. The deep web is a part of the internet that you can’t find with search engines like Google or Yahoo. Anything that isn’t indexed is part of the deep web. Any site or application that requires a password to access or that exists behind a paywall is part of the deep web. Your customer’s bank account, for example, is in the deep web. Your customers access the cloud controls for their smart home in the deep web.

The dark web, also known as the darknet, is part of the same deep web that protects your customers’ banking information. But your customers can’t find dark websites using standard web browsers. And that’s a good thing because there are many, many sites on the dark web conducting illegal business.

Not all activity on the dark web is criminal, though. Journalists and activists use the dark web to share information, particularly in states where personal freedoms are restricted.

One of the elements of the dark web that is gaining mainstream popularity is anonymous internet activity. Many of your customers have installed Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to protect their privacy. One of the most popular VPN options, Tor, is the main tool for accessing and populating the dark web.

Tor allows users to set up servers or websites without revealing the IP of the provider. Tor also allows internet users to conceal their location so they can access information that might be blocked in their home country and so they can share information freely.

Tor is used by businesses wanting to keep their procurement practices private, NGOs wanting to protect the safety of their volunteers and even by a branch of the US Navy.

And Tor can hide your customer’s smart home from would-be attackers.

A year ago, the Guardian Project, a Tor partner, announced the development of a technique to use Tor to protect Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Tor can be installed on a Smart Home Hub running HomeAssistant, an open-source home automation platform. Nathan Frietas, director of the Guardian Project told Wired Magazine that this transforms an “internet-of-things hub into a hidden service.”

The Tor setup for Smart Home hubs goes a step further by turning the hub into an authenticated hidden service. With an authenticated hidden service, no user, no hacker, not even Tor’s intermediary computers, can be routed to the server without a passcode. This means your customer’s smart home hub is protected not only with passwords and encryption, but it is also invisible. Intruders can’t breach what they can’t see.

Tor provides instructions for anyone interested in employing Tor for IoT security setup, and the organization is hoping to work with IoT vendors to provide safe hubs for IoT devices.

The drawback to the Tor system is that it is more complicated to set up. And, let’s face it, your customers may not like the idea that their best protection is to hide in the same location criminals are using. But the added security may be worth it. The idea is definitely worth checking out.