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‘Smart’ Devices May Pose Cyber Threat to Consumers

reliance_smart_clientAs technology becomes even more integral in our daily lives than ever before, the question arises as to whether it may be just too much. As our amenities become more and more advanced, so too do the hackers. A number of high-profile data breaches have taken place just within the past few years. But with the high demand for SmartHome security systems, these cyber attacks may hit even closer to home.

Though these so-called “Smart” systems are intended to make our homes more secure and well-monitored, about 75% of Smart door locks have been found to be vulnerable to remote attacks.

The rapid advancement of technology has led to higher rates of hacking due to unintended Internet connectivity. Trojan horses and other viruses may be lurking in your network, waiting for the opportunity to strike. In early October, the Internet was in shambles as a DDoS, or Directed Denial of Service, attack struck. The hack did not affect computers as we typically think of them, but everyday household devices.

Known as the “Internet of Things,” electronic “smart” security features, as well as printers, DVRs, washing machines, and other appliances, were hacked. Sites like Spotify, Twitter, and PayPal also admitted having server issues due to being overwhelmed by site visits that they could not monitor closely.

While companies are extremely cautious in terms of their cyber security — especially retailers — the Internet of Things lacks regulation and attention.

“Security has not been a prime focus on many devices and organizations that put these out helter-skelter. … In many cases they’re not adjusting to security concerns,” said Leonard Kleinrock, a professor of computer science at UCLA. “So it’s not a surprise this [cyber attack] happened and it hasn’t been taken seriously. There’s no oversight in general.”

According to Machina Research, these devices number roughly 6 billion worldwide, and 5.5 new devices are being added to consumer homes daily.

cyber-hackWhile the simple answer to these security issues is to change the password on the device regularly, too few Internet users even change their online account passwords regularly. Asking them to change the passwords on their toasters and washing machines may be an unreasonable stretch.

As a more proactive preventative measure, the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group has released a list of guidelines that give recommendations regarding the use of SmartHome technology for manufacturers of smart devices. The report addresses the following concerns: security vulnerabilities, insecure communications, susceptibility to malware, potential service disruption, threats from a lack of software updating, and devices that do not comply with up-to-date security practices.

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