Is your television spying on you? Is your fridge broadcasting that you’ve gone away for the weekend? Or has your toaster been recruited by North Korea as part of a plot to cripple a major US corporation?
Far-fetched as they may seem, these are now genuine concerns among cybersecurity experts studying the rise of the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things describes the idea that huge numbers of devices are connected to the internet. It includes baby sleep monitors, room thermostats, electronic garage doors, robot lawn mowers and much, much more.
There’s now a web-enabled version available of almost every electrical household item. Some offer convenience, others have little more than novelty value, but many come with a hidden security risk.
The dangers of allowing cybercriminals into your home
As manufacturers rushed to integrate web connections into many of their products, many have not paid much attention to making those connections secure. Weak passwords and poor security protocols make it easy for cybercriminals to break in.
Criminal use of home devices varies enormously. Some become part of a huge army of machines used to launch digital attacks on popular websites. It’s impossible to spot if, say, your web-enabled fridge is engaged in electronic warfare while also keeping your milk and veg cool.
Other criminal activity hits closer to home. Webcams and microphones can be used to spy into your personal life. At least one household has had its web-enabled smart TV hijacked by cybercriminals demanding a ransom to unlock it.
Web-savvy burglars can spot when you’re on holiday by monitoring the digital devices in your home. When the fridge door hasn’t been opened for several days, it’s a strong clue that the house is empty.
Is it better to avoid the Internet of Things?
Having a web-connected washing machine you can activate from a smartphone app may seem a trivial luxury. Does everything really need to be web-enabled? But when that same internet connection allows the machine to send alerts, prompting maintenance and preventing inconvenient breakdowns, a web connection seems much more useful.
Not to mention the value to manufacturers of being able to monitor the performance of thousands of their machines on an ongoing basis, giving them opportunities to further improve their products.
The Internet of Things in the home promises huge benefits to us as individuals, to businesses, and to society as a whole. But it’s not without its risks, particularly in these early days. Security is improving, although nothing can ever be 100% secure.
If you buy into the convenience of the Internet of Things, be alert to the potential risks and take steps to minimise them. Look for products with better security, change your password from the default (where you can) and use common sense.
We can help with your concerns about the Internet of Things
Because our clients need to be kept secure from the latest threats and risks, we stay up to date with the newest best practices and news around digital security.
If you want to know how to further protect your business against the possible risks from using Internet of Things devices, give us a call on 0345 051 0600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be pleased to have a no-obligation conversation with you.
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Web-enabled kettles, freezers and vacuum cleaners aren’t to be feared. The Internet of Things is going to become a feature of our houses, offices and lives, and it offers huge benefits. However, in these early days, it pays to be aware of the security risks when allowing these devices into our homes.