The connected devices that constitute the Internet of Things (IoT) have proven inherently vulnerable to hacks over the years. At the same time, we eagerly connect more of them to our home networks every year, increasing the attack surface for cybercriminals. So, it begs the question: is a having a smart home worth the privacy and data risks associated with vulnerable “smart” devices?

Answering that question may not be as easy as “yes” or “no.” Although it’s true that some smart devices are riddled with security holes, things are not so black and white. But first, let’s look at why IoT security has become such a sensitive topic?

Internet of Things or Internet of Threats?

The sheer number of “smart” things surrounding us is growing at a strikingly fast pace. Gartner estimates that some 8.4 billion connected “things” are currently in use, up 31 percent from 2016. Smart camera manufacturers alone are predicted to ship nearly 24 million devices per year starting with 2022.

“If not protected, this data in the wrong hands can be used to threaten those caught on camera, one of the main public concerns,” ABI said in a research note earlier this year.

Mirai immediately springs to mind when we talk about weaknesses in connected cameras. Mirai (Japanese for "the future") is a notorious piece of malware that turns networked devices running Linux into remotely controlled "bots." Primarily targeting online consumer devices, such as IP cameras and home routers, Mirai can be used as part of a botnet in large-scale network attacks.

In fact, Mirai is so potent that it killed major parts of the Internet for hours last year. If hackers can take down major services like Twitter, Netflix, Github and Spotify, one has to wonder how easy would it be for them to hack your smart home, right?

A home is as smart as it is secure

Around 2014, we saw the first signs that the IoT market was entering murky waters. Connected / embedded devices were being rushed to market without proper security testing and vulnerable firmware, and because of the hype surrounding them, people snagged them off the shelves.

Then, the incidents started, including:

  • baby monitor hacks
  • web cam hacks allowing hackers to peek into people’s private lives
  • smart dolls leaking parent & child messages and recordings…

…and the list goes on.

With central heating, lighting and even door locks going the IoT route, it will take more than just timely firmware updates to secure our smart homes.

Whenever hardware, software and the Internet cross paths, it’s only a matter of time before a motivated hacker finds a weakness and attacks. At the same time, it’s impossible to deny the benefits of connected devices, and indeed smart homes – something we’ve been aspiring to as a civilization since the dawn of science fiction.

The Bitdefender BOX is specifically created to secure any smart device you bring into your home, and it has passed the test with flying colors. If your home is already “smart,” you can make it “wise” by adding BOX – a central security hub for an entire fleet of connected devices under one roof.