The number of networked devices in our homes will reach 50 million by 2020. With everything from toasters to sprinklers, heating systems, and egg trays now incorporating Wi-Fi features, it looks like smart technology is taking over.
A lot of the electronic devices that we buy have the capacity to communicate with the internet and one another. This situation is referred to as the ‘internet of things,’ and can be used to describe items like GPS regulated thermostats, Wi-Fi connected washing machines, and interactive food containers.
The question is, will this upcoming technology make our lives better?
Whilst these devices are undoubtedly the future of home based tech, there is one area which manufacturers have yet to fully explore. If our appliances are ‘talking’ to each other, and to outside systems, what does this mean for their security?
According to IT security experts, the problem is that we don’t look at these devices in the same as laptop computers and smartphones, even though they operate in a similar manner. They are not considered in need of the same protection, because – well, why would a toaster pose a security threat?
It seems like an absurd idea, but security company Proofpoint claims that more than 750,000 phishing and spam messages were sent from over 100,000 household appliances last year – televisions, fridges, Wi-Fi routers etc.
Fortunately, the solution is simple, but it does involve manufacturers paying more attention to the protection sold alongside their tech products. This means developing software patches, providing updates, and making sure that hackers cannot take control of servers.
The experts are keen to stress that we have plenty of time left to start developing protection for smart appliances. However, the longer it takes us to start adapting to this rapidly changing new world, the more headaches our undefended tech could cause.