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Friday, July 30, 2021

Stay locked and unheated: Google’s blackout demonstrates that we are not prepared for the all-connected

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

For more than four hours the servers of Google Cloud suffered a general decline, which affected services such as YouTube, Gmail, Drive or Discord. Millions of users, mainly located in the United States and Europe, could not use the different web pages since the Google network was practically completely fallen. But Google not only has websites and for example Nest devices were also affected. That is, thermostats and smart locks .

As a user in Hacker News explains“during the fall of Google’s servers I could not open the door of their house to let their guests in”. A situation attributed to the digital lock uses the servers to operate and that with the fall was unusable.

A general fall with many affected users

Through the Downdetector service, we see how Nest users presented a large number of complaints during the blackout. In the comments explain that they could not connect from the application and stopped being able to control the temperature of their homes. A problem that we could also verify from here when we were affected.

In addition, some with the smart lock Nest x Yale, had to restart the device to reconfigure it. Although, there are also users who explain that they did not experience problems with their Nest device.

The problems with the Nest Yale Door Lock affected several users and from their Twitter account Google has reported that they are analyzing the problem.

When a smart lock loses the internet connection it can still work. The products of home automation and the Internet of Things are usually programmed to have a coverage in case they lose access to the Internet, however cases like the one presented to us now make us doubt whether these devices have been created correctly and comply with the existing regulations.

In case it is confirmed that these devices stopped working and blocked the access to the house to their users, we would be facing a serious security problem . A failure that could be transferred to other services and intelligent devices such as autonomous cars or other home automation products. We will have to wait for Google to confirm these cases and explain what could have failed.

Remember that this is not the first time that Nest has problems with its lock and where users can not control it. On May 17, users reported that it was impossible to access control of their devices. At that time, due to an electrical blackout, the products were able to continue operating as reserve batteries were activated.

With the boom in home automation there are still many doubts. The traditional locks can also suffer problems, but in the face of general falls like those of today, the debate about whether home automation is nowadays stable enough is on the table . An aspect that will improve over time but where companies like Google have a lot of work ahead.

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