News

Seen At 11: Hackers May Come After Your Smart Appliances

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — We know hackers target computers, but how about your refrigerator, your tires, or even your light bulbs?

As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, anything can be hacked these days with enough time and effort – even today’s smart apliances.

CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson explained back in March that technology has enabled smartphones to direct the way that people live.

Security, lighting, TV, music, and more can be monitored and controlled by smartphones.

“We got about five or six televisions hooked up to the system and 90 percent of the house’s lighting is connected through the system,” homeowner Brad Thurman explained in March.

But there is a dark side to that technology.

“All of these smart devices work so well because they’re on the Internet, they’re connected to wi-fi or to Bluetooth, they work through an app on your phone,” explained Mashable chief correspondent Lance Ulanoff.

And it is that Internet connection that makes smart appliances – from dishwashers to home security systems and even car tires – vulnerable to hackers.

“There are risks with all technology,” Ulanoff said.

An investigation by one security firm found hackers broke into thousands of household appliances – including refrigerators and televisions – earlier this year. The point was just to show it was possible.

London-based Context Information Security sent CBS 2 a video demonstrating how vulnerable even smart light bulbs are. Once they broke the bulbs open, researchers found the chips inside were unprotected.

“They could sit in their car outside your house with one of these, then they would be able to steal your wi-fi passwords from the bulbs,” Context Information Security expert Jan Tudor explained. “They could then attack the computers on your home network.”

Hackers can do that and have done so, but Ulanoff said it is no easy task.

“Who has the time, the expertise?” he said. “Certainly not average people.”

Ulanoff said manufacturers are constantly updating their software to protect against such potential attacks. The bottom line, he said, is that homeowners need to do their part.

“The biggest problem with technology are humans, because they create terrible passwords; or they don’t use passwords; or they don’t lock their phone; they leave their wi-fi network completely open,” Ulanoff said. “They’re the weakest link, not the technology.”

Experts warn that if your router is more than a few years old, the security mechanisms may be easily hacked. They recommend replacing it.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories