Smart devices could expose homes to thousands of cyber attacks a week
A home filled with smart devices could be exposed to thousands of hacking or unknown scanning attacks from around the world in a single week, according to a new report.
A real-world study carried out by consumer group Which recorded more than 12,000 attack attempts in a week, including 2,435 specific attempts to maliciously log into the devices with a weak default username and password.
This equates to 14 attempts every hour by real hackers to infiltrate the devices.
UK households now have more than 10 different connected devices on average, ranging from TVs to thermostats.
While these products can bring huge benefits for consumers, the research highlighted how connected homes can become a major target for hackers.
The study, carried out with cybersecurity specialists NCC Group and the Global Cyber Alliance, involved a fake home filled with products including smart TVs, printers and wireless security cameras, as well as more unusual gadgets such as wifi kettles.
Researchers then connected them to the internet, exposing them to online threats and malware created by real cybercriminals.
They looked for unique scanning attempts – a technique used to locate online devices that exists in a legal grey area and is a potential gateway used by hackers – and hacking attempts, which are a clear breach of the Computer Misuse Act.
Most of the time, the basic security protections in the devices were able to block the attacks, but that was not always the case.
The most targeted devices in the testing were an Epson printer, an ieGeek branded wireless camera and a Yale smart home security system. All three devices were purchased from Amazon.
Which said that while hacking traffic came from around the globe, the vast majority appeared to originate from the USA, India, Russia, the Netherlands and China.
“While smart home gadgets and devices can bring huge benefits to our daily lives, consumers should be aware that some of these appliances are vulnerable to hackers and offer little or no security,” said Which computing editor Kate Bevan.
“There are a number of steps people can take to better protect their home, but hackers are growing increasingly sophisticated. Proposed new government laws to tackle devices with poor security can’t come soon enough – and must be backed by strong enforcement.”