At this year’s CES, LG and Samsung showed off their “smart refrigerators” that use WiFi, apps and touch screens to purportedly make the consumer’s life easier. Grocery lists help you keep track of when the milk will expire, apps display coupons, and even suggest recipes. The fridges look cool, but it’s hard to get that excited since the fridge isn’t smart enough to know when you are running low on something and give you a coupon to replace it – yet anyway.
But now that the Internet of Things is really picking up steam, some are wondering whether your Internet-connected espresso maker could be hacked and turned against you. Sounds wacky? Since these devices are not always that secure, it wouldn’t be that hard to infect a household connected device with a virus and then use that device as a “man in the middle” to attack your PC. Daniel Buentello suggests that “multistage” malware could even jump from your PC to your smart thermostat to your smart light bulb.
During his “Weaponizing Your Coffee Pot” talk, Buentello gives an interesting example of a potentially lethal attack on connected household devices by exploiting the Belkin WeMo smart light switch. Yeah, potentially lethal, as in someone could get hurt.
So while it definitely sounds cool to have my iPhone alert me when my coffee is ready, it is less cool if my coffee maker also show up on a connections available WiFI list. Sounds wacky? How about the Nest thermostat, which does its auto-updates over WifI?
As the Internet of Things continues to explode – estimates are that in less than 7 years, more than 50 billion mobile devices will be connected to the Internet – the privacy and security considerations should be paramount. Devices need protection baked in from the start.