8 smart devices at risk

The explosion of “smart” devices is bringing unprecedented convenience to consumers. But, as is the case with anything connected to the Internet, it also brings risks.

Risky devices

The explosion of “smart” devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) or, as some are now putting it, the Internet of Everything (IoE), is bringing unprecedented convenience to consumers. But, as is the case with anything connected to the Internet, it also brings risks. And with the number of devices expected to hit 50 billion or more in just a few years, the level of risk will also be unprecedented. (Related story: Held by ransom by the 'Digital Mob.')

Some of those at-risk devices or machines include the following:


Hackers have already demonstrated that they can take control of some of the vital components of a car, including ignition, brakes and airbags. That may cool the enthusiasm for self-driving vehicles until security vulnerabilities are resolved.


The promise of energy savings through automatically or remotely controlling heat and air conditioning is seductive … until you end up having to pay a hacker not to leave the heat at 85 degrees in midwinter at your ski cabin when it’s vacant.

Door, window and garage locks

The same applies to the physical security of your house. Remote control capability is great, unless a hacker gains control of it – something else that has already been demonstrated at security conferences.


The advertising pitch is that your smart refrig can notify you when you’re low on something, and even order more of it. But what if 5,000 gallons of milk showed up at your door, thanks to a prank? Some security experts warn that “smart” refrigerators could also be used as bots to execute DDoS attacks against networks.


The smart ones are connected to the Internet, to provide everything from streaming movies to games. But researchers have shown that means they are vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle attacks that could allow hackers to do everything from injecting bogus information into the broadcast stream to taking over social media accounts to spying on users through the embedded camera.

Electric meters

Remote reading of meters can make life more convenient for both consumers and the utility companies that serve them. But consumers obviously would not be pleased to hear from hackers that they have to pay $20 to keep their meter from showing that their energy use had tripled.

Wearable health devices

It could be nice to have “every step you take, every move you make,” plus your heart rate and sleep patterns logged by a smart wristband to keep track of how healthy you are. But that information in the wrong hands might affect your insurance bill, your chances of employment and other things.

Web cams

Restaurant owners use them to monitor their parking lots. Young parents use “nanny cams” to make sure their infants or small children are OK when they are sleeping. But hackers have already broken into some of them, making their feeds available on the Internet.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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