Smart devices are increasingly popular, and smart light bulbs are one of the latest innovations. However, there has been growing concern that smart bulbs can spy on you. Are these worries founded, or do they stem from inexperience with the light bulbs? Join us as we explore the critical topic of whether light bulbs spy on you.
Do Smart Light Bulbs Have Cameras?
Accessing CCTV camera footage on a smartphone
Contrary to the common fear that smart bulbs have video cameras, they don’t have them. The worry stems from the fact that there are such electronic devices that feature security cameras. But such a security bulb will have an indicator of its package indicating the presence of a light bulb security camera.
If you suspect the bulb has a camera, there’s a good way of testing it. First, switch off the lights and shine a mobile phone flashlight on the LED. It could be a security bulb with a camera showing an unusual glow reflection or reflection.
Do Smart Lights Have Microphones?
Illustrating the Smart Speaker Concept
There are also concerns about whether the bulbs have microphones capable of recording human speech. Once again, this is unfounded as they feature no microphones.
When connected to other smart home devices, smart bulbs will even respond to commands made via voice. But this has nothing to on their microphones as they contain none and are incapable of recording an audio signal themselves.
But this brings us to the pertinent question of how smart lights operate.
How Do Smart Lights Work?
Controlling light bulb temperature and intensity with a smartphone application
Smart lights are undoubtedly more sophisticated than conventional incandescent bulbs. They contain LED lighting arrays that allow you to switch from one color to another.
Furthermore, they feature other components that facilitate a steady energy flow at a constant temperature. Other than that, they are as simplistic as other outdoor bulbs.
All in all, some smart lights with speakers or microphones exist to record the sound of conversation. But as with the light bulb camera, LEDs with a speaker will indicate on their package.
Can Smart Light Bulbs Spy On You?
A Young woman controlling home light with a digital tablet
Most smart bulbs cannot spy on you as they do not have audio recording equipment or cameras. However, they are prone to hacking. A hacker may access the firmware of the LED bulb‘s microchips.
And while the hacker cannot use the bulb in question to spy on you, they can use them to access other smart devices. Unlike regular bulbs, smart lights connect to a WiFi connection. Hence, the hacker may use the connection to gain control of other smart electronics.
However, they have security patches to prevent such a form of hacking from occurring.
How Do Smart Bulbs Spy On You?
While we’re adamant that smart bulbs will not spy on you, some may have eavesdropping methods that could be intrusive. They are as follows.
a.) Bulb Telemetry
Illustrating the binary data concept
Switching the lights on and off may seem harmless as the only data obtainable from this practice is only binary. But, the data can be useful in determining the trends, and advertisers use it to manipulate you.
For instance, a manufacturer can record your time in your bathroom. Primarily this is via monitoring the frequency at which you switch the lights on and off.
Say, for instance, you supposedly spend too much time in the bathroom. A malicious eavesdropper will sell the data to advertisers. Next, you’ll probably receive adverts on time-saving bathroom appliances.
In addition, they may also record data on how frequently you switch your bedroom light on and off. It is intrusive to your private life.
b.) In-home Location tracking (and mapping)
Manipulating Smart Lights On/Off switching can aid in location tracing.
Earlier, we highlighted how an intrusive guy could use basic “light on/off” data to manipulate you. Some other bad news is that they can exploit the data for in-home location tracking.
For instance, take a case where you have numerous light bulbs with descriptive labels to enable control via a phone app. In this case, you have labeled some as bedroom lights, ceiling lights, kitchen lights, etc.
Now, the eavesdropper can use the basic “light on/off” data to know where you are precisely in the house.
c.) They always remain on
When you turn off the traditional light bulb, it’ll completely shut off. But, while a smart bulb will turn off, it partially remains on. That is why it can be switched back on in real-time via a phone app.
It means that with the smart bulbs’ advanced lighting, there is also a fear of its constant communication with the manufacturer. Otherwise, it would be impossible to realize the smart features if they remained completely off.
Can Smart Bulbs Be Used To Infiltrate Your Home Network?
Illustrating the Smart home concept.
A hacker can use your smart bulb to infiltrate your home network via your WiFi password. It will happen If your password is not secure or if it is stored unencrypted on the chip’s data.
In turn, they will have remote access to WiFi networks and other devices linked to the network. Say, for instance, you have connected a smart speaker to the WiFi. The hacker can remotely switch on the microphone to obtain an acoustic signal or the surroundings.
Also, the hacker can switch on the camera on smart devices to have an optical signal and spy on you.
Can Smart Bulbs Access Data On Your Computer?
Smart Bulbs cannot access your critical PC data.
Say you could have connected your smart lights to your PC’s WiFi network. Does this mean that the hackers can access the PC if they gain access to the network via the smart lights?
The answer is no.
Hackers who access your WiFi via smart lights can only monitor your internet usage. Otherwise, they cannot access your computer remotely. Again, sensitive data sent through the network will be strongly encrypted. So the only way to access the data is via actual computer hacking, which they can’t simply do via WiFi.
Should I Avoid Using Smart Light Bulbs At All?
Not at all.
We are in a world where it is virtually impossible to live without network-connected devices such as phones and now smart devices. Thus, rather than ditch using the devices completely, we should stay vigilant about the possible avenues of data breaches.
How to Prevent Hackers from Accessing Your Smart Lights
Have a secure password to prevent smart lights network hacking
The following are some of the measures to prevent smart light hacking:
- Use a separate WiFi for personal devices from that of smart devices. A dedicated WiFi network for smart devices means they are safe from manipulation via network hacking.
- Also, ensure the smart devices’ WiFi is undiscoverable from the settings.
- Thirdly, have the latest security patches and updates for the smart lights. You can guarantee this by activating the automatic updates option.
- Lastly, have a strong password comprising letters, symbols, and numbers to eliminate the chance of access by unauthorized people.
What Can Hackers Spy on with Standard Smart Lights?
Hackers can spy on your smart devices’ trends and usage if they hack the smart lights. However, other than that, there’s not much they can access from hacking.
Why Do Smart Lights Require WiFi and Bluetooth to Be on All the Time?
It is primarily for ease of control of the smart lights. Remote control of smart lights is only possible if they have a wireless connection.
In a nutshell, we’ve seen that smart lights are incapable of spying on you. But, someone can tap into the smart lights WiFi network and interfere with control. The hacker may also get the usage trends and sell the data to third parties like advertisers. All in all, to a large degree, they are safe from hacking. That’s all for this article. Thank you for reading.