Is your fridge compromising your home cyber security?

Is your fridge compromising your home cyber security?

Most people are aware of the necessity of having anti-virus software on their PCs, and the importance of cyber security for businesses has been highlighted time and time again. But did you consider it for your home appliances?

My fridge? Really?

Yes! The Internet of Things (IoT) is ever-growing. Whilst you may have your PC fully up to date with the latest security software to prevent it from being attacked, have you considered all the other devices in your home that connect to the internet?

Baby monitors, smart thermostats, webcams, security cameras, fitness trackers and even less obvious appliances such as smart fridges are all vulnerable to attack. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology released a document in February 2019(1) on the ‘Cyber Security of Consumer Devices’ in which it states that ‘Cyber-attacks are one of the most common types of crime experienced by individuals in the UK according to national crime statistics, affecting an estimated 2.4% of adults in 2017’

Given that the forecast suggests that there could be as many as twenty billion IoT devices worldwide by 2020, the potential for hackers is enormous.

What’s the risk?

The main purpose of many of these devices is to make our lives easier, more efficient or more enjoyable! Your smart thermostat helps to save you energy and therefore money – but it could also tell a hacker when you’re not in your home leaving you vulnerable to a break in. Your baby monitor lets you keep an eye on your baby in its room from the comfort of your living room – but it could also be used by a cyber criminal to spy on you. Your games console may be your way of winding down and enjoying yourself after a day at the office – but for a hacker this represents a way of stealing your financial, and other personal data. Manufacturers’ main focus is not on security when developing these products.

What should I do?  

The UK Government have produced a Code of Practice for Consumer IoT Security, putting the onus on manufacturers to deal with security from their end rather than relying on consumers to protect themselves. This is however voluntary and not (yet) regulation, so in the meantime, they have highlighted things you can do to keep your devices and home safe:

Use secure passwords  – we’re all guilty of using the same one for multiple accounts!

Use Two Factor Authentication if your device allows it. This means you’ll use another means of logging in as well as your password, making it harder for hackers to access it.

Keep your device updated – updating the software regularly helps to keep it secure

If you think your device may be affected by something you’ve seen (i.e. in the media) check the National Cyber Security Centre and the Information Commissioners Office for advice

If you suspect someone has control of your device you should perform a factory reset. This will erase all your personal data from the device. You should also do this when you sell or get rid of your device.

ESET, who are one of our recommended suppliers for our business clients’ cyber-security, also offer a free download of antivirus software for your Smart TV which we would suggest installing: https://www.eset.com/int/home/smart-tv-security/

For information on how Merr IT could help you protect your business from the threat of cyber-attacks, call us on 01249 477000 or drop us an email at sales@merr-it.com

Sources:

http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/POST-PN-0593/POST-PN-0593.pdf

https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3598917

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