The increasing number of internet-connected “smart” devices around the modern home has certainly made life more convenient. The ability to monitor security, home appliances, and integrate the various hardware and software that we use to run our lives is one of the luxuries people get to enjoy in the third decade of the 21st century.
All of this also comes with some potential threats that you should understand and plan for. Below are 3 alarming home tech cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Camera security systems, whether they are for monitoring external or internal activities in your home, are attractive targets for hackers and cybercriminals for good reason. There have been a number of high-profile camera hacks over the years where cybercriminals have stolen many terabytes worth of footage, some of it intimate, and sold access to it on torrent and pornographic sites.
The cameras in modern home security systems aren’t even the ones that would necessarily be used against a person. Cameras inside televisions and other smart home electronics are also capable of being hacked into via your home’s wifi connection if it is poorly secured or, even worse, open to the public.
Your Alexa or Amazon Echo sitting on your kitchen counter or table might be listening to you. While this isn’t necessarily nefarious, and if it is Google and/or Amazon listening to you in order to make recommendations, suggestions and ultimately make your life easier, storing your data on secure servers, at least it is the company who makes the device listening in. There are, however, other, unauthorized parties who might be eavesdropping.
Last year, research done on Amazon’s Alexa found that a major security vulnerability in the device could potentially allow someone to commandeer the device’s microphone and overhear your conversations. These could be innocuous conversations about what to buy at the grocery store, or ones about bank account balances and passwords.
Children’s “Smart” Toys
So called “smart” toys–toys which feature their own “intelligence” because of built in electronics–are all the rage. Smart toys like dolls and stuffed animals are meant to, over time, learn from and react to environmental stimuli, providing a more interactive and “real” experience to kids. The risk with these toys is that many of them are connected to the web using your home internet service.
As with the previously mentioned home camera systems, there have been a number of high-profile incidents in which smart toys have been caught spying on children. If something has data collection capabilities built into it that rely on listening and watching, you can bet these same capabilities represent vulnerabilities to be exploited by hackers and other cybercriminals.
Home security technology and smart home tech shouldn’t be blindly and reflexively feared, but nor should their cybersecurity vulnerabilities be ignored. If you use or are thinking about bringing any of the above technology into your home, consider what needs to be done before fully integrating it into your or your family’s lives to ensure that it isn’t commandeered by malicious actors and used against you. If you take the necessary precautions, your home tech can continue to make your life more efficient and enjoyable.