Cyber Risk Gets Personal: How to Keep Connected Devices Safe from Hackers

March 12, 2018

Do you have a smart speaker or a smart refrigerator? What about a modern car with internet capabilities? Or even a baby monitor that connects to the web? If so – or if you own any other device that can access the internet – you could be targeted by a hacker.

The Growing Threat

Remember the good old days when you just had to worry about viruses on your computer? Well, these days, everything is a computer. This rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that many devices, from your refrigerator to your car, are now smart. While this can make life much more convenient, and can even come with some important safety perks, it also creates new opportunities for hackers.

  • Wired has shown how hackers could gain remote access to a Jeep, controlling the radio, the air conditioner and the windshield wipers, and even cutting the transmission. Other vehicles have been shown to be vulnerable to hackers as well.
  • Huffington Post has warned parents that modern baby monitors can – and have – been hacked. The article includes instances of hackers using baby monitors to scare, insult and otherwise harass children and their families.
  • A white paper from Symantec, which provides cybersecurity software and services, warns that voice assistants and smart speakers could be attacked, and the attackers could change the settings or even spy on the owners.
  • Consumer Reports warned that hackers could take advantage of a vulnerability in Samsung smart refrigerators to steal owner’s Google log-in information.

Staying Safe

We’ve been trained to pay attention to cybersecurity when it comes to our computers. Now we have to extend this care to all the other smart devices we use.

Assume that any connected device is a possible target, even if it’s one you don’t think hackers would find interesting. Refrigerators, for example, may not seem very appealing to criminals, but opportunistic identity thieves could use them as an entry point into your email accounts and, from there, other pieces of personal information. Other criminals may use smart speakers or baby monitors to spy on you so they can plan a burglary.

Keep yourself and your family protected.

  • Don’t use the default log-in information. Change the username and password to something secure.
  • Be aware of all the smart devices in your home. You want to know what they are so you can manage the risks and keep an eye open for any newly discovered vulnerabilities. You also want to make sure the devices are updated regularly. Check the settings to see whether this will happen automatically.
  • Research the risks before buying a new device. Also, be cautious when giving or receiving gifts. Although a smart speaker might seem like a nice present, as Gizmodo reports, many people don’t want the privacy issues that these products create and are not happy to receive them as gifts.
  • Make sure your devices are properly insured with a current homeowners or renters insurance policy. Contact us if you’d like to schedule a personal insurance review.