Smart home appliances come with security risks

These devises, she adds, enables users to control their devices through communication between the devices connected to the same IP address. “However, the growing array of items that can be connected to the Web in turn causes consumers to be increasingly susceptible to cyber crime.”

 

Sutherland urges consumers to educate themselves about the risks associated with connecting home appliances and electronic devices to the Internet.

Sherry Zameer, senior vice president for Africa at security company Gemalto, says the more devices and points of entry there are on a home’s network, the more opportunities there are for cyber criminals to sneak in.

“Virtually every connected device, from smart TVs, fitness devices and home security to printers, in-car systems and networked lightbulbs, has been hacked at some point.”

“With so many links in the chain, security must be envisioned globally and for every device and at all entry points to create a truly secure ecosystem.

He explains the security framework must be interconnected and coordinated to avoid breaches, snooping, hacking or accidental leaks into the home.

Sutherland provides the below information as tips to consumers on how to use IOT responsibly when it comes to specific electronic devices.

Smart televisions have become very popular over the past few months, but hackers can gain access to these TVs and can use the TV to spy on its users, says Sutherland.

“The front camera of the TV can provide hackers with access to a live video stream of the room in which the TV is located, not only is this an invasion of privacy, but it provides thieves with access to the residents’ movements and gives an indication of some valuable contents in the home,” he notes.

Zameer adds smart televisions can spy on you and your family and record moments of your private life and conversations, etc.

“Televisions are also nowadays connected to CloudTV and laptops, opening the doors to sensitive and private data such as pictures of your kids, banking statements, invoices, ID documents, healthcare security number, insurance policy and more,” he explains.

Sutherland says smart fridges attempt to make the lives of consumers easier by using an embedded operating system that is connected to the Internet to store information and inform the user when stock of certain items in the fridge are low.

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“However, there is no record of whether the operating system and software used by this smart fridge is up to date and ‘cyber-assisted burglary’ might become increasingly common.

“Criminals can hack into household networks to extract data from routine items to determine whether the occupants are at home or not”, she says.

Zameer adds hacking a smart fridge is not harmful by itself, however, as we truly move towards IOT, the fridge will be connected to your mobile phone, and can also be connected to your smart metering, which in turn can be connected to your laptop, etc.

“With the plethora of interconnected devices around us, an unsecure smart fridge becomes the weakest link of a chain of connected device and the perfect entry point for hackers.

Home automation

Possibly one of the biggest IOT risks for consumers lies in home automation systems that control every aspect of the home from the temperature and lighting to the home security system, warns Sutherland.

“With access to one’s security system, hackers can gain entry into a house to steal valuable items without the alarm systems reacting.

“Criminals can also try to access an individual’s home automation system in order to harass them, as they have full access to security cameras, door functioning or temperature control.”

She points out most remotes for home automation systems can be accessed anywhere via a secondary connection in the cloud system used by the manufacturers. Although there are a variety of risks associated with the increased implementation of IOT, Sutherland advises consumers to rather be aware of the risks, instead of just being wary of implementing an IOT system.

First and foremost change the default password, which will be either ‘admin’ or ‘password’.

Install applications that notify the users when an unidentified user attempts to gain access to their device.