From Fridges to Wearables: How Your Home’s Technology is Increasing Your Cyber Risks

Media Division | August 30, 2017

The number of areas in which we employ cyber technology has continued to increase rapidly as more sophisticated technologies are developed. The internet used to be purely for our computers, but now we employ it in numerous technologies with our everyday lives. Various modern day items within our homes contain cyber technologies. We now connect our fridges, cars, kids toys, phones, and even our thermostats to the internet. All of this technology allows us to perform various tasks better and be more interconnected, and a lot of it is pretty cool. Of course, all of these new cyber technologies also increases the risk of potential cyber attacks.

One of the largest problems in this realm is manufacturer’s lack of focus on cyber security and hacking prevention. When it comes to creating smart technologies, manufacturers tend to concentrate on being able to create slim devices that also contain a plethora of bells and whistles, which leaves security as a second rate concern. They focus so hard on creating the most appealing device that they do not provide secure enough software or functioning. And realistically, it appears that many of them are aware of this, and yet do not seem to really care. There have been several different types of smart technologies that were found to be vulnerable in certain ways, and yet we have not seen many manufacturers rushing to address this. Instead, they simply work on launching the next cool device that will ideally make everyone forget about security because of appealing features.

Device Cyber Security and Hacking

To give more context to these types of concerns, we will go through a few different types of devices that were discovered to have different types of vulnerabilities.

Two of the most simple targets for cyber attackers are webcams and broadband routers. An extremely large amount of routers continue to remain unsecure. For quite a time, many people would even leave their routers without a password, which is still the case with some. A study from Avast had found that nearly 50% of routers within the UK were actually left unsecured. As far as webcams, there are several models that can contain unseen vulnerabilities. Research done by Vectra Networks had displayed that they were able to hack into a webcam and turn it into a backdoor to a network by reprogramming it. This could potentially allow attackers to access files within the computer, and maybe even spy on the owner through the cam. The webcam was a D-LINK Wifi web camera, which is in common use within many households and businesses.

Another type of device that has arisen some concerns is AI smart speakers, with examples of these being Google Home and Amazon Alexa. If a hacker were to gain access to these, they could potentially listen in on conversations, collect data about your browsing history, and potentially access the rest of your network through the connection.

As far as protecting these types of devices, one of the most simple things that you can do is change the default password. Keeping the default password can make it that much easier for hackers to gain access through guess work or deciphering. In addition, make sure that the chosen password is complex. It should ideally be long and contain mixed characters, as this makes it much harder for a hacker to figure out. You should also use separate passwords for each device, being that if they all shared a single password, a hacker could access all of them if they were able to get into one. There is also the obvious point of ensuring that you have comprehensive antivirus and firewalls in place to defend from infiltrators.

While you may feel like the above compromises will never happen to you, it is ideal to put defenses in place out of precaution. Homes and individuals can be extremely ideal targets for attackers simply because they often neglect cyber security and hacking risks.

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