Akita monitors your smart home network for potential hacks [Sticky or Not]

Concerned about the security and privacy risks of setting up a smart home with its multiple vulnerable entry points?

The creators of Akita, a device purpose-built to guard smart home networks against hacking, think you should be.

Akita connects to a LAN port on your router, scans your network for unusual activity and, if it finds it, immediately shuts that device down, alerting you via an accompanying app. To fix the issue, users can then contact always on-call “privacy experts” through a partnership with smart home support company Axi.us.

But why is this careful monitoring important? Akita points to several recent news stories that show just how easy it is to infiltrate an entire network via a seemingly harmless smart home device — for instance a connected tea kettle in this example given by BlackBerry.

Additionally, Akita points to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland that states hacker attacks occur every 39 seconds on average, often employing automated scripts that “indiscriminately seek out thousands of computers at a time, looking for vulnerabilities.”

Akita says to scan for threats, it uses threat intelligence, behavioral analysis and machine learning, and promises it won’t slow down your connection. It also notes it doesn’t use Deep Packet Inspection, a method it deems too invasive since it scans and reads your data.

Instead, it works on the IPS security method by analyzing sources that IoT devices should be communicating with and instantly flagging anomalies.

The Akita app can also track and log events on your network, and check your internet speeds and bandwidth.

One Akita currently costs about $143 CAD through Kickstarter, with an expected delivery of July 2018.

Verdict: Theoretically sticky.

My smart home network has developed and grown without much consideration on my part. I just get a new gadget and pop it blithely into the system, happy if it makes life a little bit easier.

This is not smart, I know. But I’d wager this is how most smart homes are developing — without much consideration for security or privacy (although perhaps a gnawing unease in the back of one’s mind).

It’s time to consider the daunting reality that hacking is extremely prevalent and highly likely to affect you in the future, if it hasn’t already. A device like Akita could be helpful. Whether or not it’s the one to back is yet to be seen. As is always the case with Kickstarter products, you’re taking a chance when you back a new gadget. But, in theory, we’d all do well to invest in our digital safety.