Today, phones aren’t the only thing that has become smart. TVs, refrigerators, home alarms, and even watches are now having their smart versions. By smart, we mean that these appliances are now having a certain degree of intelligence and functionality that allows it to automatically adjust to the user’s preference without the need for input. For example, smart TVs have the function to connect to the internet, turn itself on and off, switch channels automatically, record, and etc. A smart home system can turn lights on and off automatically, adjust the temperature, open doors and lock them, etc. Imagination is your limit.
While it sounds really cool to live in a fully ‘smart’ house or environment, experts are seeing potential cyber threats concerning these smart household appliances and furniture. These smart devices, in order to work, require a certain degree of connectivity and internet access. But the question is, can these devices compromise my cybersecurity?
Well, the first thing we need to understand is that these devices are not designed to spy on us. Their task is limited to the purpose they are made to. However, since they connect to the internet to function, we as users still have to provide certain information. Your smart refrigerator may have online access to order groceries for you but be wary that your data like the items you purchase are recorded. The point is, for these things to work, we have to provide them some of our data. Data that hackers can use to manipulate us. In a report published by FoxNews September 30 of this year, a cybersecurity researcher named Martin Hron hacks a smart coffee maker and turns it into a ransomware machine.
According to the report, the smart coffee maker, when turned on, creates its own Wifi network to which the user has to connect in order to set it up. However, as it turns out, the device lacks sufficient encryption and authentication protocol. Hron then modified its firmware and added a ransomware that when triggered, will render the coffee maker unusable, would create annoying beep sound, and splatter some water that the only way to stop it is to unplug it. A typical ransomware notice will appear on its screen asking for money for a fix. So, if you allow a compromised coffee maker into your home network, it can really mess things up for you.
So what do we do then? Should we throw our smart home appliances out? No. What we need to do is to scrutinize who gets access to your devices. Also, take note that manufacturers are aware of such concern and the government is also setting up security standards for these kinds of appliances. The technology is still in development. Due care and diligence is needed to protect yourself from hackers.
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