13 votes

In smart apartments, is tenants’ privacy for rent?

16 comments

  1. [16]
    Crespyl
    Link
    While I've been interested in IoT/smart-home technology for a while now, I haven't invested in any devices yet, largely because most systems require some proprietary third party cloud application...

    While I've been interested in IoT/smart-home technology for a while now, I haven't invested in any devices yet, largely because most systems require some proprietary third party cloud application to function correctly, and partly because I live in a tiny apartment and nothing can ever be more than a few yards away from me, so the gains from putting all my widgets on the network are somewhat limited.

    There's a few open source projects that I've been toying with the idea of setting up, mostly just for the hell of it, but this week the managers for my building announced that they're partnering with SmartRent to install new locks, smart hubs, and presumably other devices in all the apartments. I've asked a few questions and haven't got a straight answer back yet, but it doesn't seem that we'll be allowed to opt out of the installation.

    7 votes
    1. [8]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I quick search for "smart lock failure" leads me to believe that you will be significantly reducing your security if they install one. So many of these things are terrible. It might be worth...

      I quick search for "smart lock failure" leads me to believe that you will be significantly reducing your security if they install one. So many of these things are terrible. It might be worth consulting an attorney on whether you're required to accept the installation. Heck, just sending them a cease and desist letter may convince them it's not worth their time, and maybe they'll just leave you out.

      8 votes
      1. [5]
        vord
        Link Parent
        Most home security is an illusion anyway. Unless you've substantially fortified your home, anybody who really wants in isn't going to have much trouble, smart home or not. Somebody could spend...

        Most home security is an illusion anyway. Unless you've substantially fortified your home, anybody who really wants in isn't going to have much trouble, smart home or not.

        Somebody could spend substantial time and effort to try to hack their way in to a smart home...or they could toss a brick through a window, or kick in a door in a fraction of the time.

        It's much like locks on a car: it mostly just deters the lazy.

        7 votes
        1. [4]
          whbboyd
          Link Parent
          The issue, of course, is that many of these "locks" are so brutally insecure they don't require substantial time and effort. Also, cracking a "smart" "lock" leaves no obvious evidence it's been...

          substantial time and effort

          The issue, of course, is that many of these "locks" are so brutally insecure they don't require substantial time and effort. Also, cracking a "smart" "lock" leaves no obvious evidence it's been broken into, which substantially increases the already significant likelihood of getting away with it.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            Weldawadyathink
            Link Parent
            Picking a lock also shows no evidence of being broken into, unless the homeowner routinely completely disassembles their locks and checks for tool marks. It does not take a lot of proactive to get...

            Picking a lock also shows no evidence of being broken into, unless the homeowner routinely completely disassembles their locks and checks for tool marks. It does not take a lot of proactive to get skilled enough to make it look just as inconspicuous as a key.

            5 votes
            1. [2]
              whbboyd
              Link Parent
              You can't script-kiddie lockpicking. It's not tremendously difficult, but the bar is still much, much higher than downloading a phone app to unlock a completely broken bluetooth lock.

              You can't script-kiddie lockpicking. It's not tremendously difficult, but the bar is still much, much higher than downloading a phone app to unlock a completely broken bluetooth lock.

              2 votes
              1. vord
                Link Parent
                Let me introduce you to this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snap_gun It'll damage the lock internally, but if the resident is not present, and the criminal uses a modicum of protection (face...

                Let me introduce you to this:

                https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snap_gun

                It'll damage the lock internally, but if the resident is not present, and the criminal uses a modicum of protection (face cover, gloves), it's virtually zero effort with low chances of getting caught.

                As an aside, I wonder if a savvy criminal could leave behind some drugs in a victim's place after ransacking, and add a non-zero chance the cops lock up the victim and confiscate their remaining possessions instead of trying to catch the thief.

                No idea if that would actually pan out, but I'd be kinda surprised if it didn't, at least once.

                4 votes
      2. [2]
        Crespyl
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I'm... less than thrilled at the prospect. I know there was a case a year or two back in NY where the tennants ended up suing the managers for the right to have a basic mechanical key,...

        Yeah, I'm... less than thrilled at the prospect.

        I know there was a case a year or two back in NY where the tennants ended up suing the managers for the right to have a basic mechanical key, though I don't recall the details. I'd rather not go that route if I can avoid it, but maybe I can at least get them to delay the installation for my unit until my lease is up.

        The lady at the leasing office I spoke to told me they wouldn't have most of the answers I wanted until after the scheduled Q&A event with the SmartRent reps next week, but I expect to be out of town that day so I've emailed my questions and asked that they get back to me when they can.

        3 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          I am not a lawyer. You should probably consult one. Depending on the wording of your lease, you might have options though. If nothing else, I would think such a substantial change should allow you...

          to delay the installation for my unit until my lease is up.

          I am not a lawyer. You should probably consult one.

          Depending on the wording of your lease, you might have options though. If nothing else, I would think such a substantial change should allow you to opt-out or otherwise renegotiate your lease or break it penalty-free.

          2 votes
    2. vord
      Link Parent
      So on one hand, some smart functionality in an apartment would be awesome...accidental lockouts are a pain in the ass. That said, I wouldn't dare live in a place where I didn't have 100% control...

      So on one hand, some smart functionality in an apartment would be awesome...accidental lockouts are a pain in the ass.

      That said, I wouldn't dare live in a place where I didn't have 100% control over the installation and use of said smart features. The potential for abuse is extremely high, and privacy concerns are huge even when you can control it yourself.

      3 votes
    3. alexandre9099
      Link Parent
      You got OpenHAB and Homeassistant, most wifi connected thingies use an esp8266, which can be flashed with tasmota, an open source firmware which was mainly produced for sonoff products, but works...

      You got OpenHAB and Homeassistant, most wifi connected thingies use an esp8266, which can be flashed with tasmota, an open source firmware which was mainly produced for sonoff products, but works with basically everything that has an esp8266 on it.

      2 votes
    4. [5]
      hungariantoast
      Link Parent
      What is a "smart lock"? My father recently installed a new lock on his front door. It's just a keypad. You press a few buttons a few times in the correct order and the door opens up. (And there...

      What is a "smart lock"? My father recently installed a new lock on his front door. It's just a keypad. You press a few buttons a few times in the correct order and the door opens up. (And there are only five buttons!)

      I don't think I could ever sleep peacefully knowing that someone could just guess the password to my house.

      Is that the kind of "smart lock" we are talking about here?

      1 vote
      1. [4]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        It depends. Some of the higher end smart-locks have keypads/touchscreens (e.g. Schlage's) like you describe, but lots don't and look almost identical to traditional household/apartment locks on...

        It depends. Some of the higher end smart-locks have keypads/touchscreens (e.g. Schlage's) like you describe, but lots don't and look almost identical to traditional household/apartment locks on the outside. However what generally make them all "smart" is that they are typically also WiFi/Bluetooth connected, and have key-less entry/unlock using either your phone or some other device (e.g. key-chain dongle), and sometimes even completely remotely via the internet... hence the concern so many security experts have with them.

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          vord
          Link Parent
          Best part of these for the landlords: trivial to lock out a tenant they want to kick out. Wait for them to leave (since they have cameras or door sensors now) for work or food, change the codes,...

          Best part of these for the landlords: trivial to lock out a tenant they want to kick out. Wait for them to leave (since they have cameras or door sensors now) for work or food, change the codes, toss their stuff and be done.

          No need to change the locks, or try to involve the police or even follow legal processes. They could do a cost/benefit analysis to see if the tenant will have the resources to take them to court and win substantially.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            j3n
            Link Parent
            Changing out a mechanical lock is hardly any more difficult. Landlords involve the police and follow legal processes because there are consequences to not doing so, not because it's hard to change...

            Changing out a mechanical lock is hardly any more difficult. Landlords involve the police and follow legal processes because there are consequences to not doing so, not because it's hard to change the locks on an apartment. I'm no fan of "smart" anything but lets not get carried away.

            5 votes
            1. vord
              Link Parent
              Point taken, although I would say 'change code in app' is a hell of a lot quicker and easier, don't even need to be on-site or pay someone else to do it.

              Point taken, although I would say 'change code in app' is a hell of a lot quicker and easier, don't even need to be on-site or pay someone else to do it.

              1 vote