cyber threat

How unsafe IoT can pose a threat to your home

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August 5, 2020

An article by Erna Clayton

The Internet of Things (IoT) has grown exponentially in the last few years. From your digital assistant Alexa controlling the lights to your CCTV camera placed in the yard streaming the live feed on your smartphone; IoT has made deep inroads in our homes.

According to an Orbis report, global smart home market revenue will cross $150 billion by 2023. However, an increasing number of smart devices have also created more digital access points for cyber-attacks. Our smart homes are now more vulnerable than ever.

Hardware and software vulnerabilities, default passwords and porous configurations are some of the major reason’s security breaches occur.

Why is IoT a serious threat to your home?

The majority of IoT devices are not prone to cyber-attacks because of poor setup by the vendor. They are prone to vulnerabilities due to poor encryption, testing and certification. For example, temperature sensors are built to sense humidity and temperature, but they are not robust enough to manage military-grade encryption and other security features. Hence, it has also become crucial to find out whetherthe IoT devices are being tested under robust security testing services.

Gartner reported that by 2021, around 75 percent of smart devices will be leveraged for botnet threats. By hacking into your smart home, cyber criminals don’t just breach the security and privacy of your home; they can also mess with the electrical grid by turning on thousands of high-voltage appliances.

In the USA alone 8 out of 10 Wi-Fi routers are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Hackers can easily access these routers through DNS hijacking. Setting up and forgetting our IoT devices can cause further issues as neither regular updates nor the changing of passwords is taking place.

How unsafe IoT devices can help hackers control your home

#1 Smart Speakers

A bug in Amazon Echo led to the recording of a private conversation between a husband and wife. Not just that, it sent the recording to a friend. Hackers can easily create embarrassing situations. A compromised home assistant device that also controls your home light and smart devices has the potential to shut down your house completely.

#2 Kitchen Appliances

Hacked smart refrigerators can enable hackers to control their temperatures. Increased temperatures can ruin all the perishables present in your fridge. They can also order groceries from your fridge leading to additional expenses. They can brew coffee from your smart coffee maker and later let it drain.

#3 Security Cameras

Almost half of IoT devices consist of smart CCTV cameras. A hacked security camera can enable a cyber-criminal to monitor when you’re in and out of the house and plan a robbery. They can also replace the live feed with a recorded feed.

#4 Smart Bulbs

Just imagine a smart bulb lighting up suddenly when you are sleeping. Hackers can turn your lights on and off at all hours of the day and night. Aside from being distressing, it can increase your bills.

#5 Smart Locks

A compromised smart lock will not only allow hackers to enter your home but also control your access potentially locking you in or outside your house.

How to secure smart devices

To make your IoT devices more reliable and secure, take the following simple security measures on a regular basis:

  • Change weak passwords and start varying them regularly to avoid unauthorised access to your smart devices
  • Map all your IoT devices to keep track of vulnerabilities and replace weak items
  • Keep updating the software of the smart devices you own
  • Do not connect problematic or vulnerable devices to your network

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