In a few words, there are some issues. But, really, don’t worry about it. But be aware of whats going on. So are your home’s Internet-connected smart gadgets smart enough to ward off hackers? A research team found that they’re pretty dumb in this area.
Baby monitors and Wi-Fi cameras bombed. One camera even granted access after the default login and password were entered. These gadgets use web server software to post online images, and that’s where the loophole exists—in over five million gadgets already online.
The researchers were able to take control of other gadgets as well. There’s a widely used networking system by the gadgets, called UPnP. This allowed the researchers to gain control. The gadgets use UPnP to reach servers that are out on the wider network, and this can expose them to hackers. When a password is built-in and can’t be changed, this makes the situation even worse.
A rather unnerving part of the experiment involved a microphone on a smart TV. The team was able to bug a living room through this. So if you’re sitting there with no shirt on enjoying a movie on that smart TV…someone could be sitting a thousand miles away—or down the street—enjoying watching YOU.
With the way cyber crime is evolving, the risks of having smart gadgets will likely grow bigger and bigger.
The prognosis from the research: Looks like smart gadgets will be easy prey for cyber predators in the near future. Manufacturers need to improve their ability to secure their products. And there’s no simple method for updating the flimsy firmware on the smart gadgets in the first place.
And would it be cost-effective to improve products? One researcher says yes for many products. Would “hardening” the products compromise their usability? For the most part, no. A balance can be struck. But right now, compromised usability is the least of the problems out there. There’s actually a lot of room to fix the flaws without hampering the user’s experience.