Beware of Smart Home Hackers

Wednesday, 06 August 2014

The Internet of Things is becoming more and more common in British homes, with everything from TVs to bathroom scales being turned into smart devices. These products should make our lives easier, but new research from computer manufacturer HP has found that they could actually pose a serious security risk.

The company’s security division, Fortify, tested ten of the most popular smart appliances to find out how easy they'd be to hack. Their findings shocked security experts, with the majority of the smart appliances showing some seriously worrying data breaches.

Eight of them fell at the first hurdle: the password. These devices didn't ask users to create long and complicated passwords. Instead, users were allowed to choose simple phrases like 1234, which certainly wouldn't take a hacker long to get past.

Now this might not seem like a big deal – how much information could someone get from your telly, after all? But HP found that 90% of the devices tested ask for and store personal data. This data could be as basic as a name and address, or as dangerous as credit card details. As soon as hackers have access to your passwords, any data would be up for grabs, posing a huge privacy problem.

It's particularly concerning that three of the devices tested – smart garage door openers, door locks and house alarms – are so important to home security. Although the specific brands weren't named and shamed in the report, it’s worth doing your research before installing these products and getting up to date with your home insurance.

If your home's already kitted out with smart appliances, change your passwords so that they're more difficult to guess. Use a combination of numbers, symbols and capital letters (and try to share as little of your personal data as you can anyway). Long and complicated passwords might be a pain for you to remember, but they're also a pain for hackers to crack.


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