Smart home appliances come with security risks

These devices, she adds, enable 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 cybercrime.” Sutherland urges consumers to educate themselves about the risks of connecting home appliances and electronic devices to the Internet. Sherry Zameer, senior vice president for Africa at security company Gemalto, says the more gadgets and points of entry there are on a home’s network, the more opportunities there are for cybercriminals 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, 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 using IOT responsibly for 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 that smart televisions can spy on you and your family and record moments of your private life, conversations, etc.

“Televisions are also 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 consumers’ lives easier by using an embedded operating system connected to the Internet to store information and inform the user when the stock of certain items in the fridge is low.

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“However, there is no record of whether the operating system and software used by this smart fridge are 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 refrigerator 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 insecure smart fridge becomes the weakest link of a chain of connected devices 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 to harass them, as they have full access to security cameras, door functioning or temperature control.”

She points out that 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 various risks associated with the increased implementation of IOT, Sutherland advises consumers rather be aware of the risks instead of just being wary of implementing an IOT system. First and foremost, change the default password, either ‘admin’ or ‘password.’ Install applications that notify the users when an unidentified user attempts to access their device.