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Risks of a smart home

24 January 2014 / 14:01:53  GRReporter
4697 reads

How do you imagine the future technology home? And how would your daily life change due to the advent of new technology in it? We think that many of the things that we have seen in fantasy films are far away from us. We are somewhat right but the future is overtaking us to some extent. We told you about tech glasses that add new reality to our daily lives. We wrote about smart watches, TVs, glasses, phones and tablets. The point of connecting all these devices in a single system is not far away and some of them have already been connected. Moreover, smart vacuum cleaners, ovens, refrigerators, air conditioners and other household appliances driven by operating systems are entering our lives. They are connected to the Internet and can be controlled remotely. We can check whether we have forgotten the oven switched on, if the washing machine has finished washing and in general, if everything is fine at home. See this vision for the near future:

Everything seems to be enticing and it is already a fact that these smart devices are gradually entering our daily lives. What still escapes us is that all these devices need to be protected, at least as we protect our computer, tablet or phone.

During the Christmas holidays, specialists from "Proofpoint", a digital security company, noticed something unusual, namely that hundreds of thousands of malicious emails sent by more than 100,000 devices using the Linux operating system had appeared on the web. They were even more astonished to find out that the source of these emails was not PCs but household appliances connected to the Internet, including TVs, multimedia systems and even a fridge!

Perhaps, many consumers do not know that their smart TVs are smart because they have a Linux based operating system. When connected to the Internet, these devices can be used by hackers and spammers as a means to distribute malicious codes or to carry out any other illegal activity.

These devices are noticed by the evildoers because, due to the specific operations performed by the consumer electronics, they are protected only by a simplified web interface or, in other words, with a username and password. If you have entered them into your TV via its remote control, you have undoubtedly noticed how inconvenient this is and how we all come up with easy and simple usernames and passwords. This means that these devices, which we perceive as home appliances, are actually mini computers with an operating system, the protection of which can be quite easily broken and they can be used for criminal acts. Just think that while you are watching TV or while your refrigerator is chilling your drink, these appliances can send spam messages or distribute pornographic content!

Hackers have long caused problems in terms of personal computers, turning to smartphones and tablets with their advent. While users have become used to installing computer protection software and have recently started doing so in terms of smartphones, the protection of household appliances is not so simple. We cannot just download an antivirus program and install it on... the refrigerator. Moreover, there are already bulbs designed to be controlled remotely. There are even high-tech toilets. Has it occurred to you that a toaster can also be connected to the Internet? All of them, connected to the Internet, are only a password away from evildoers!

A number of technology companies and analysts already warn that many smart devices reach shelves too easily, with no thought as to their security. Experts believe that the reasons for this are various, including the fact that start-up companies try to minimize their costs, leaving security in the background. They may have no experience either and do not even think in that direction. Established companies that have produced offline consumer electronics until recently may not even be aware of the problem. It is imperative to protect all smart devices.

"They are not stupid," states Mark Rogers, a leading researcher in mobile security company Lookout, in relation to the producers. "They just do not know how to deal with the problem."

While the companies churn out smart lighting and smart locks that you can control through your smartphone, or smart toilets and blood pressure measuring devices, someone must consider how to protect all these Internet-connected devices.

 

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