The consumer sector is estimated to see more than 4 billion connected things in 2016, turning regular households into “smart” homes, as the increased number of sensors allows us to control and gain insight into most any device from anywhere in the world.
However, most of these internet-facing smart devices use various way of communicating between themselves and with other appliances. Because of this, security researchers have found that many home network smart devices are not only vulnerable to various types of attacks, but also pose risks to the privacy of user data.
The Privacy Game
While consumer IoT adoption has been growing for a couple of years, consumers have yet to fully realize the amount of data such devices tap into. Everything from medical devices to household appliances and wearables tap into personal information, such as location and biometric data, potentially broadcasting them to either cloud service providers or various mobile apps.
Some home network smart devices need to connect to home networks to broadcast information or function properly. However, security researchers have found these devices lack proper security mechanisms – encryption, password protection, etc. – when broadcasting this information on the local network or the internet.
While smart devices that use device-to-device communication via Bluetooth, Z-Wave or ZigBee to send small amounts of information from one to another are somewhat safe from online attacks, as the attacker would have to be relatively nearby, smart devices that use device-to-cloud or device-to-gateway communication are prone to remote attacks on the data they handle.
Such smart devices are usually not built with security in mind, but with usability. No security standards are specifically designed to enforce the way smart devices handle data, and manufacturers don’t even have to build update mechanisms into their products for pushing software security fixes.
In some respects, it’s like a car manufacturer starting to mass produce really nice-looking vehicles with racing performance, but not fitting them with airbags or collision safety mechanisms.
Some of the worst fears involving home network smart devices involve IP cameras, smart security locks or other smart home devices that can be remotely accessed by cybercriminals and used to either spy on you in your own home or gain access to all your data. This “peeping Tom” scenario is as old as the internet and security researchers have proven that IoT devices could become the ultimate surveillance tools working against you.
Even seemingly benign smart baby monitors have been found vulnerable to remote control, allowing attackers and complete strangers to not only listen to what your children are doing, but also interact with them via built-in microphones.
Other scenarios involve attackers gaining complete control over your entire home network by exploiting a vulnerable smart thing. This could lead to a new type of ransomware, as attackers could even start asking for money to let you inside your own home (by unlocking the smart lock).
It’s obvious that traditional security solutions and approaches are not only unfit to secure IoT devices, but they’re also not designed for the task. This means that if laptops, mobile devices and tablets can be protected, home network IoT devices are left facing the internet by themselves.
Rethinking security for IoT is no easy task. Innovative thinking from security vendor Bitdefender has brought forward an integrated home cyber-security solution that can secure such smart devices. Bitdefender Box is a hardware device that can monitor all your household network-connected smart devices and let you know if they’re vulnerable or if they start behaving the way they’re not supposed to.
Bitdefender Box not only allows you to make informed decisions regarding the security of your smart devices, but it also secures PCs, laptops and mobile devices. Providing anti-phishing, malicious websites alerts, and even rogue users trying to connect to your home network, Bitdefender Box is able to secure your entire inter-connected smart home and protect your digital data.
This article has been bought to you in assocation with Bitdefender