Think Smart Devices Make Your Home Safer? Think Again

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August 2, 2017SecurityNo comments

Just a few years ago, those concerned about home safety installed a deadbolt, locked the windows, and maybe installed a remotely monitored security system. Today, homeowners and landlords alike opt for smart home devices to protect their properties from theft as well as to simply increase day-to-day convenience. Unfortunately, these technologies that should be improving security may actually be compromising it.

Why are smart devices such a problem for the modern homeowner and what can they do about it? Understanding malicious attacks on all forms of technology can help users step up their guard.

Where IoT Meets DDoS

The Internet of Things (IoT) includes everything from fitness trackers to smart thermostats and you’ll find it everywhere in our modern environment. Homeowners install it to save on energy costs and factories use IoT devices to monitor employee efficiency. The pervasive nature of this technology is where security problems begin.

In the past few years, IoT devices have been increasingly vulnerable to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that typically knock websites offline by sending constant service requests. In order to do this, the attackers need to take over the devices that will send the requests – they don’t own them all personally. Individuals’ internet ready devices are at the heart of this subterfuge.

Code On The Loose

DDoS attacks were a big enough problem when they first started, but now the code associated with these programs has gone public, making it available to any hacker who wants to use it. Bots use this code to infect and reinfect IoT devices every day. Pair this with other public information about key pieces of technology and smart homes are in the security spotlight.

Consider, for example, how much damage DDoS attacks can do when combined with public knowledge on how to hack almost any router on the market – information WikiLeaks made public. Once you get through the router, all technology inside the home is vulnerable. Pandora’s box is open and all of your information is getting loose.

All Manner Of Malware

It’s not just DDoS attacks that pose a problem to smart home systems. New malware attacks target smart home systems in highly specific ways. Targeting an otherwise minor flaw in a smart alarm system, attackers can remotely deactivate the alarm – or set it to panic mode – by manipulating the code. The same system is also vulnerable to DDoS attack, but that concern seems minor and impersonal when you consider that hackers could turn off your alarm and walk through the front door.

When Smart Tech Goes Bad

Smart home devices have so much to offer homeowners, whether they’re seeking better home monitoring technology or the ability to control appliances from outside the home to reduce energy waste, but when these tools go badly, it can prove disastrous. Most people have heard the speculation that someone could hack a self-driving car and kill those inside, but technological equivalents are happening in smart homes every day.

In practice, physically threatening hacks include remotely overloading smart meters to cause an electrical fire or even manipulating single smart outlets. Security cameras are hacked to stalk the subject and learn their habits, infiltrating the privacy the device was meant to protect. Everything that is done can be undone.

It’s time to stop blindly accepting the idea that smart technology makes our homes – and us as individuals – safer than we would be without them. An isolated device without any internet connections can only do so much harm, but once the internet gets involved, you welcome in any hacker smart enough to crack the code. Hacking is a specialized form of knowledge, but the prevalence of serious attacks in this vein is on the rise, taken over by bot technology and automation. IoT offers false peace of mind – let it go and embrace vigilance.

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