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Could Your Smart IoT Christmas Present Be A Trojan Horse?

December 23, 2016




In this day and age a lot of leisure items and toys now have a ‘smart’ element to them. This is a huge amount of items which could be in your house right now from lightbulbs to kettles. Could these smart IoT devices that you are given this Christmas be hacked by cyber criminals in 2017?

A Big DDoS With IoT.

In October this year some cyber criminals took over thousands of different household IoT (internet of things) devices! They then used this web of devices as a botnet to create a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on services such as Twitter, Spotify and Reddit. Some of the devices that unwillingly became part of the network were devices such as CCTV, printers and white goods.

Only 2 months down the line many of us will be giving and receiving IoT devices as Christmas presents that are just as vulnerable to being taken over and used by hackers for attacks in the coming year.

Which Devices?

The kinds of smart devices that are part of the IoT and could potentially be exploited include fridges, kettles, toasters, and systems used to heat and monitor your home remotely. While smart devices and the IoT have many great benefits and great potential, they also bring security risks that are not yet fully understood.

Why Are These Devices Vulnerable?

Technical experts believe that it is not easy for manufacturers to make internet-enable devices secure because:

  • To add some sort of security to these smart IoT devices would cost companies more money. This would then be passed down to the customer with a higher mark up. This could mean that the price would not be competitive. It may be that security is being sacrificed in order to make the device cheaper.
  • The firmware on these devices are not always easy to update, this mean even if a security problem to were arise there are costs involved in keeping the device secured especially for lower end devices. These companies won’t want to incur these extra costs.
  • White goods are products that we tend to purchase and keep for the long run. We keep these until they die. We are also unlikely to buy more since they have security vulnerabilities. These devices will be left on for cyber criminals to have at.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

If your business manufactures or sells smart devices, be aware that if recent months are anything to go by, consumers will begin to understand the value of security protection of their IoT devices, and it may become part of the purchase criteria in the near future.
For businesses and individuals, one simple step that we can all take to make sure that our ‘smart’ Christmas presents and other smart items are protected is to make sure that, if they have a default username and password, these need to be changed as soon as possible. Make sure that the new username and password are very secure and very unlikely to be discovered easily.

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