With over 7 billion IoT devices, smart home technology has become a mainstay in homes around the world. Voice-activated, touch, and synced devices integrate and communicate via wireless and wired internet connections to assist in the running and organizing of our daily lives.
Collectively, they are part of the expansion of the ever-growing internet of things (IoT), which rely on the convergence of mobile and internet communication technology to help us be more productive, manage our health, control our home security and energy consumption, order dinner and a long list of other tasks.
The issue with much of the smart home technology, including smart home automation systems, and the internet of things more broadly, is that the more internet-connected and enabled devices we have around us, the greater the number of hacking and infiltration points. Below are the most commonly hacked smart home tech.
Cameras around your home, if they are not closed-circuit, are connected to the internet via a wireless connection. These include cameras that monitor your front and back doors, the garage and driveway, and even baby monitors in nurseries or an infant’s room. Cameras are hacked for a wide range of reasons, some more nefarious than others.
Just last year, nearly 50,000 home camera systems (3TB of footage) were reportedly hacked and the footage was posted online, with some appearing on adult sites and offers from cybercriminals for “lifetime access” for as little as $150.
Cameras are the main targets for hackers, and for good reason, as there is a near-endless supply of voyeurs out there who are willing to pay to access stolen content. Additionally, hacked smart cameras can also be used to create botnet like Mirai for DDoS attacks.
Smart locks have also become very popular in recent years and they let you control your door and window locks remotely whether you are inside your home, on your way home from work, or if you think you might have forgotten to lock the back door as you rush to the airport.
Smart home locks and apps are, understandably, one of the most commonly hacked pieces of tech because they are responsible for safeguarding so much. Last year, a vulnerability in a popular smart lock model allowed full access to threat actors.
It is crucial, therefore, that not only is your home’s internet connection protected with a firewall and strong authentication but that the security settings on any smart home tech you use to access locks and locking mechanisms are set to limit or deny data sharing and access.
A smart home TV might not seem like a prime target for hackers at first glance, but when you factor in the camera and microphone built into them, and the fact that most people have multiple televisions around their home, most saliently in the bedroom, it is easy to see why cybercriminals and voyeurs would be so interested in commandeering a television. Probably that’s why Samsung urges users to scan their smart TVs for malware regularly.
In order to fortify yourself against this threat, it is a good idea when you first take your new television out of the box to go to the “data collection” settings such as ad tracking, personal advertising and voice, and face recognition and turn these off. You can also look for a smart TV that does not have a camera or mic.
It is well-established at this point that devices like Alexa and Google Home expose people to vishing and eavesdropping. The vishing and infiltration techniques used to gain unauthorized access to these devices are ingenious and surprisingly simple to implement.
But that’s not all. According to new research, your Alexa and Google Home devices can be hacked through laser and used by malicious elements for commands like opening the front door in your absence.
Most people who own these devices likely have some understanding of the risks that are inherent to anything voice-activated that collects and stores data, but it is clear the average consumer is completely unaware of just how vulnerable these devices are to skilled phishers and hackers.
Anyone thinking of or who has already adopted some or all of the above devices should approach further use and adoption with neither naive utopianism nor overly cynical dystopianism. These are devices that, when used with cybersecurity best practices in mind, really do have a positive impact on how efficiently and conveniently you are able to handle all of your daily tasks minutiae.
Just bear in mind that many of them are susceptible to hacking and infiltration and proceed with that knowledge at the forefront of your decision-making.