Monday, March 2, 2020

Privacy showcase: How to use smart devices without Ewelink/internet

Introduction

Recently, more and more consumer devices are available to make your home "smarter". While they can make our lives a bit easier, comfortable, most of these smart devices also give rise to a number of privacy concerns as well as usability/reliability issues:
  • The mobile apps (i.e. Ewelink, Smart life, etc) that come with them are closed source, and as such they should not be trusted. (When launched the first time they start by asking for your wifi network's password, and you can only hope that it doesn't pass it on to 3rd parties...)
  • Internet access is needed for them to operate, and as far as my experience goes in several countries, it is not without interruption.
  • Control happens through some servers over which one has no control or authority. This means that if those servers are down for any reason (a scheduled maintenance, the hosting company's decision to make it a paying service, malicious attack, etc.), then, the best case scenario is you can't control the switch, a worse case scenario is that someone else does.
Image borrowed from the official Sonoff web site