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They are convenient, help you save time, energy and money, but smart home devices could pose a security risk for the unaware.
Here’s what to know before you opt for smart home technology.
Smart home technology is designed to help your home run more efficiently and to make it easier for you to access and control various features and devices. When you add or use smart home technology, you connect a smart device to your home network and other, existing devices. This interconnectivity allows these devices to work together and allows you to control parts of your home from a mobile device. While using smart home technology is fun and easy, it can elevate your risk of exploitation, identity theft, and cybercrime. Learning more about the ways smart home technology could expose you to risk can help you take action to ensure your home network is secure.
As consumers continue to adopt home automation and the Internet of Things (IOT) some clear risk issues are emerging. From home security systems to fun gadgets and even your appliances, here are some of the ways hackers are using automation to harm victims.
Home security systems, smart doorbells and even fun applications like Amazon’s new Echo Look used cameras and feeds to improve access and functionality. Users can control cameras to view different areas of the home or to see who has arrived at the front door. A hacker wishing to access the home network and exploit it could find vulnerabilities within camera devices. Once inside, the cybercriminal could seize control of the camera and even intercept warning and security message. At least one company, Motorola, had issues when hackers were able to identify and exploit camera feeds. The camera, which was intended to help the homeowner, was used instead to spy on the homeowner and case the home. While this particular issue was corrected, any in-home device with a camera needs to be carefully monitored and secured to ensure it is not being exploited by others.
They make it easy to get into your home, even if your hands are full, simply wave a RFID-equipped tag or enter a code to gain access. Hackers can exploit these security devices via the apps used to set them up. By offering a malware-loaded application that proposes to help improve security and improve battery life, researchers in a recent study were able to access and exploit common smart locks in seconds.
While this test was limited to Samsung smart lock technology and the company took steps to mitigate risk, the fact remains that the locks were easily bypassed. The “hackers” were able to choose alternative pin codes to gain access to the home and remove alerts that were designed to notify the homeowner of changes. If you use smart locks or other smart devices, be aware that third-party apps may not be there for your benefit at all.
Find out who is at the door – and spot the guy stealing your packages, too. Smart doorbells are designed to enhance security, but doorbells like Ring can put your network at risk. A recent security test showed that hackers could exploit the doorbell to gain access to the entire Wi-Fi network; the hacker should simply remove Ring’s cover and press the reset button to be granted access. While Ring swiftly released an update, the existence of this major security flaw put early adopters at risk the moment they installed the doorbell.
From Amazon’s Alexa to Google’s smart home assistants, the devices designed to make your life easier could also provide access to your home or result in costly errors. Whether the assistant allows an elderly family member with dementia to order dozens of new appliances or accepts an order from a child for multiple Barbies, your bank account can take a hit. A third party could easily access your device and order items for themselves, too.
As these devices become more sophisticated and include cameras, they can be used to exploit your network and privacy. Amazon’s Echo Look is designed to be placed in a changing area or closet and snap images of your clothing. A hacker could easily exploit this and have the perfect view of your changing area or bedroom.
Mitigate your Risk when Using Smart Home Technology
Be aware of what you are using: Make sure you know what the device does and what it is capable of doing. You may be installing that nanny cam to make sure your childcare provider is acting responsibly, but if others could exploit it as well, you need to make sure it is secure.
Update devices regularly: As security issues are identified, manufacturers make updates and patches to close loopholes and eliminate vulnerabilities. Updating your software regularly helps protect you from those who would exploit your network.
Be aware of phishing: A phishing scam could allow malware to enter your system and give the criminal control of everything from your oven to your in-house security feed. While many cybercriminals use malware to seize control and deliver ransomware to your computers, others can hide silently in your system, waiting for a chance to exploit your network. If you fall for a phishing scam, every device in your home could be impacted.
Choose strong passwords: Every device you have needs a strong password, even if it is not terribly convenient. Since any device could; potentially allow access, using “password” “123456” or other common choices increase your risk of exploitation.
Keep track of devices: If you lose your smartphone, Fitbit or tablet, the person who finds it can have legacy access to your entire home full of devices; you’ll need to check your security settings and change your passwords if you lose a controlling device.
Avoid third party applications: It may seem like a way to enhance your smart home, but downloading and using third-party apps could lead to trouble. Hackers create what seem like useful applications for your smart home products, but once you download these apps, your network is easily accessible to the creators of the app, boosting your risk considerably.
Smart home technology is designed to make your life easier and better, and being aware of the potential risks can help ensure that you get all the benefits of these innovative devices without any of the risks.