Surprising Ways Your Home Can be Hacked

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Imagine you’ve installed a new Wink Relay system in your home. This device is a favorite of families looking for more control over their homes from a centralized location. The neat little device is mounted on a wall in a common room. It can switch lights on and off, lock and unlock doors, and control your homes thermostat.

For the less-than-tech-savvy among us, the end of perplexing thermostat buttons sounds like a dream! But Wink Relays, and other smart devices for your home, poke holes into your life where data can leak into the wrong sort of hands. Do we now need to worry about home automation security risks? Yes!

What the Heck is the Internet of Things?

Here’s a nifty phrase you need to know as we dive into the information wink relayage: The Internet of Things. What does this mean? It’s referring to the way we are increasingly connecting ourselves and our things to the internet without the help of a computer.

Today, without hooking up to a computer, you can buy cameras, thermostats, refrigerators, vacuums, coffee makers, and even heart rate monitors that send data over a network. Companies use the term “smart” to designate these devices.

Consumers love these products because they make controlling these items as easy and intuitive as sending a text over your iPhone.

More like the Internet of Threats

But as these products increasingly gain entrance into our homes, they open up potential data leaks for malicious hackers to come inside as well. Cyber attackers have already gained access to wireless cameras inside our homes in over 250 countries.

Network security companies have tested the cyber security risks of these Internet of Things devices. Of the six ‘always-on’ devices, all but one of them exposed their consumers to potential threats across web, mobile, and cloud services.

The vulnerabilities found could enable attackers to do all kinds of damage, from running spyware applications to monitoring all of the shared information. A skilled attacker could potentially take complete control of the device.

Aren’t Smart Devices Supposed to be… Smarter?

There’s a simple answer as to why these devices are so vulnerable to outside threats: because they aren’t designed that way. A device that sends information without the help of a computer also doesn’t have the built-in protections that computers have, and the manufacturers of the devices prioritize convenience over security.

Most people don’t realize these home technology products can be a serious security threat.  After all, why would anyone care what time we brew coffee or when we turn on the air conditioner?

An attacker can learn your routine and predict when you’re away to plan a burglary. If your device has a microphone (read: voice-activated), a hacker could switch it on and listen to conversations happening within earshot of the device. A criminal could capture corporate intelligence from anyone working in a home office.

How Can We Minimize the Threat of Smart Devices?

So what does this all mean for consumers?  Do your research.  Some manufactures are just better at security then others.  Find out how they secure their products or if they are known to have a track record of being hacked.

But manufacturers also need to take responsibility for protecting their customers. As the next generation of products goes deeper into the home, collecting and sending ever more sensitive data outside the home, manufacturers need to prioritize cyber security in the product design.

If we don’t address these risks, the potential for serious security concerns could hurt the technology we love, as well as putting ourselves and our families in danger.

 

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About the Author:

Online Security Expert Todd Laff reviews online hacks and security issues and how to protect yourself and secure your network.
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