Smart home devices are increasingly popular due to their convenience, but they also pose significant security risks. These devices, which include everything from smart thermostats and lighting systems to security cameras and door locks, are often connected to the internet and controlled through a mobile app or voice command.
One of the biggest security concerns of smart home devices is the potential for hacking. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in these devices to gain access to a homeowner’s personal information or even take control of the device itself. This could result in a hacker being able to control a home’s lighting or temperature, access security cameras, or even unlock doors.
Another security concern is the use of default passwords. Many smart home devices come with default passwords that are easy to guess, and homeowners often neglect to change them. This makes it easy for hackers to gain access to the device and the home network it’s connected to.
Additionally, smart home devices may collect sensitive data such as a homeowner’s daily routine, personal habits, and even credit card information if used for online purchases. If this information is not properly protected, it can be stolen and used for identity theft or other malicious purposes.
Finally, there is the risk of third-party apps and services that homeowners may use to control their smart home devices. These apps can sometimes be poorly secured, which can allow hackers to gain access to a home’s devices and network through these third-party services.
Some of the high profile stories of successfully hacked smart home devices;
- In 2014, a group of researchers hacked into a smart home to show how easy it was to gain access to the home’s lights, thermostat, and other devices. They were able to control the devices remotely, demonstrating the potential risks of smart home technology. (https://www.theverge.com/2014/7/22/5920317/smart-homes-are-a-huge-security-nightmare)
- In 2015, a hacker remotely accessed a baby monitor in a Texas home and began shouting obscenities at the baby. The monitor was connected to the family’s Wi-Fi network, and the hacker was able to gain access to the device through the internet. (https://www.cnn.com/2015/08/13/us/baby-monitor-hacked/index.html)
- In 2016, a smart refrigerator was used in a cyberattack that caused internet outages across the United States. The refrigerator was part of a botnet, a network of hacked devices that can be used to carry out attacks. (https://www.wired.com/story/inside-the-mirai-botnet-a-plot-to-take-down-the-internet/)
- In 2017, hackers used smart lightbulbs to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against a university network. The lightbulbs were part of a botnet that was used to overwhelm the network with traffic. (https://www.zdnet.com/article/iot-devices-used-in-the-largest-ddos-attack-ever-recorded/)
- In 2018, a hacker accessed a smart thermostat and turned up the heat in a house to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermostat was connected to the homeowner’s Wi-Fi network, and the hacker was able to gain access to the device through the internet. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/01/25/a-hacker-took-over-a-couples-thermostat-heres-what-you-should-know-about-their-security/)
- In 2019, a family in Australia had their smart home system hacked, and the hacker played vulgar music through their home’s speakers. (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/09/hacked-smart-home-vulgar-music-played-through-thermostat-and-camera-system)
- Also in 2019, a hacker accessed a Nest security camera in a California home and began speaking to the family through the camera’s speakers. (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50930994)
- In 2020, a hacker gained access to a smart water purification system in a factory and changed the levels of chemicals in the water. (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51446665)
- In the same year, a hacker gained access to a smart garage door opener and began opening and closing the door randomly. The opener was connected to the homeowner’s Wi-Fi network. (https://www.theverge.com/2020/6/9/21285521/smart-garage-door-opener-hack-craftsman-chamberlain)
- In 2021, a hacker gained access to a smart coffee maker and began making coffee at random times. The coffee maker was connected to the homeowner’s Wi-Fi network. (https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/12/22326847/smart-coffee-maker-hack-brewbot)
In conclusion, the security concerns of smart home devices are significant and should not be ignored. Homeowners should take steps to secure their devices, including changing default passwords, using strong and unique passwords, and keeping software and firmware up to date. It’s also essential to research the security features of any smart home devices before purchasing and using them in your home.