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Smart lights are a fun and convenient way to illuminate your home. You can remotely turn them on and off, change colors, dim them, and control them by voice. With smart LEDs in your home, you’ll never have to walk into a dark house.
Yet, as with other smart technology, there are privacy concerns related to cyberattacks. The most significant is – can smart light bulbs spy on you?
While they can’t outright spy on you through the camera, they can use it to access your network. A savvy hacker can sidestep the smart lights’ firmware to use its wi-fi connection. From there, they could access your other wireless equipment, such as cameras.
The good news is there are ways to bolster the security of your firmware to prevent this from happening. If you want to learn more about the cybersecurity hazards of smart lights, you’re in the right place. Along the way, we’ll dispel common myths related to smart lights, such as if they have hidden cameras or not.
Do Smart Light Bulbs Have Cameras?
A prominent fear with smart LEDs is that they have hidden cameras inside that hackers can use to spy on you. Luckily, this is a myth, as standard smart lights don’t have hidden cameras.
While they sell smart lights that have cameras in them – these are for home security and will say so on the package.
Your average, everyday smart light won’t have a ‘hidden’ camera, so there’s no need to worry if it’s watching you.
Yet, if you have LEDs with cameras installed – that presents an additional security hazard. If hackers can access your smart light, they can gain access to the camera. But there’s no need to worry about hackers accessing ‘hidden’ cameras that you didn’t know existed. If a smart light has a camera inside, you’ll know about it before you buy it.
If you want a way to verify that there’s no camera in your smart light due to tampering, there are ways to test it. A reliable way is to turn off the lights in the room and shine your phone’s flashlight at the LED. If you notice a glow or unusual reflection, there may be a camera.
Do Smart Lights Have Microphones?
Another concern many have is that their smart lights are recording their conversations. That is largely another baseless fear, as regular smart lights contain no microphones. Since they have no way to record sound, there’s no way a hacker can spy on your conversations.
The way standard smart lights work is quite simple. They have LED lighting arrays that include all the color shades they can project. They also have components to keep a steady flow of energy and maintain temperature. Beyond that, all that’s left is the wireless chip that connects to your wi-fi network or smartphone.
As you can see, they contain no way to observe or record sound. There’s no need to worry if your lights are recording your household conversations.
As with cameras, there are special types of LEDs that integrate speakers. Once again, though, they’re advertised as such.
What’s the purpose of having a smart light with a speaker installed?
Primarily, it’s to get rid of the need for a smart speaker in every room. For example, if you don’t have an Alexa console in your bedroom, the smart light can still hear your commands. Of course, these models come with the added risk that hackers will be able to access the speaker and spy on you. Yet, if you only have standard smart lights, there’s no way anyone can hear you.
What Can Hackers Spy on with Standard Smart Lights?
Okay, so by now, you should know that nobody can hear or see you by hacking a smart light. Bearing that in mind, what information can they access? Is hacking a smart light even worth it for a hacker?
By hacking your smart light and only using its data, there isn’t much for hackers to exploit. At most, they might be able to gather some insights into your daily behavior by how you use your lights.
Let’s say they notice that you turn on your bedroom light every day at 5:30 AM and turn it off at 9:30 AM to leave for work. A hacker can sell this data to companies that will flood your social media with time-saving products to get ready faster.
Even then, this data is pretty unreliable – and the chances of that being why a hacker accessed your smart lights is slim to none.
So why would they even bother hacking your smart light?
It all comes down to gaining access to your wireless network.
By taking your bulb offline and installing malicious firmware, they can discover your wi-fi password. Once they have that, every device on your network is fair game. If you have cameras and speakers on your network, hackers can now access them and spy on you. Therefore, the main security threat is to your overall network. Hackers will use your smart bulbs as a ‘back door’ of sorts to get inside.
How to Prevent Hackers from Accessing Your Smart Lights
Now that you know the actual security hazard smart lights pose, it’s time to learn how to prevent it from happening.
One of the most effective defenses is to keep all personal devices on a separate wi-fi network. As a result, your smart lights will stay on a dedicated network just for them. That way, if a hacker obtains your password, there are no other devices on the network to exploit.
Another tactic is to make the wi-fi network housing your personal items undiscoverable. That will stop it from showing up as nearby networks during a breach.
Also, keep up with the latest security updates and patches for your lights. Companies are always working hard to discover vulnerabilities and correct them. If you haven’t already, enable automatic updates for your smart lights.
Lastly, the strength of your password is everything. Use a confusing scramble of numbers, symbols, and letters that you keep written down somewhere safe.
Closing Thoughts: Can Smart Light Bulbs Spy on You?
By now, you should have a better understanding of how smart lights work and the risks involved. Standard smart lights do not contain any cameras or microphones. Instead, the real threat lies in hackers gaining access to your network password.
That’s why you should keep all your cameras and speakers on a separate wi-fi network. It’s also wise to create a secure password that isn’t easy for bots to crack. Do that, and you shouldn’t have any worries when using your smart lights.