By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
We’re well aware of the dangers that hackers pose to our computers, tablets, and smartphones, but thanks to the growing Internet of Things (IoT), that’s not all they can attack. An increasing number of devices support WiFi and Bluetooth connections, making them just as vulnerable to malicious attacks. The list of items that can be hacked is growing in an astounding way to include many items you might never suspect.
TrackingPoint’s software can help even an amateur shooter hit targets like a pro. However, the aiming technology in these guns comes with a WiFi connection that makes them vulnerable to attack. Security researchers Michael Auger and Runa Sandvik demonstrated this flaw at the 2015 Black Hat conference. The hackers were able to change the calculations on the rifle’s scope to make it miss the shooter’s target and instead hit one of their own choosing. They could disable the scope’s computer and prevent the gun from firing as well.
Smart Tea Kettles
Tea time is hardly something you would associate with an attack from a hacker, but the IoT has connected so many devices that even your kettle is vulnerable. The issue that was exploited with this device was a simple lack of security. With an item as harmless as a kettle, there seems to be far less need for a manufacturer to implement a host of safety measures. This leaves consumers to make an important decision about how important connectivity really is.
The iKettle lets you turn on your tea kettle remotely using an app, potentially saving a few seconds walking across the house to flip the switch yourself. However, the same problem can be solved by using a device with a simple timer that’s not connected to the Internet. Though a hacked tea kettle with the potential to boil at random isn’t a giant threat, it shows how the IoT can create an inconvenience in unexpected ways.
Digital skateboards feature a small remote controller that allows the rider to control his speed. While this feature is convenient, the associated technology can create an opening for hackers. The controller communicates with the skateboard using Bluetooth Low Energy wireless technology. Riders may experience trouble with the connectivity traveling through areas with heavy Bluetooth traffic. If a hacker were to exploit this connection, he could take over control of the board, causing it to stop or reverse and throw the rider.
A smart refrigerator may seem like a sleek new addition to your high-tech house, but as with any connected device, there are potential flaws to this type of system. In many cases, IoT vulnerabilities reveal only minor opportunities for an attack. However, a recent look at the Samsung smart fridge showed how connectivity can go wrong in a bigger way.
The fridge offers Gmail integration so you can view your calendar at the tap of a finger. However, it did not validate SSL certificates. This would allow hackers to initiate a man-in-the-middle attack and steal the user’s Google log-in information.
The Power Grid
Though you may not give it much thought, the very power grid that you rely on for everything from lighting your home to charging your phone is controlled by computers. In the summer of 2015, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) uncovered a Congressional Research Service report revealing that the country’s power grid is dealing with increasing attacks. The report revealed vulnerabilities in the grid that could allow hackers to insert malware into the system, potentially wreaking untold havoc.
Thanks to their wireless connections, any number of cars are now vulnerable to a potential zero-day attack. Hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have demonstrated their ability to hack into a Jeep Cherokee, taking over the radio, climate control, windshield wipers, transmission, brakes, engine, and more. The same connectivity that makes driving so convenient can also pose a hazard if it’s exploited by the wrong people. Fortunately, car makers are taking notice of the vulnerability and many are taking steps to patch these weak points.
Baby monitors fall under the category of security devices, yet recent research has shown that they’re anything but secure. Several baby monitors were tested, revealing numerous vulnerabilities. One of these allowed hackers to access previously recorded videos stored on the Internet. On another monitor, the hackers were able to initiate a valid streaming session and eavesdrop on it. All weaknesses were promptly reported to manufacturers, who are diligently working to make the technology more secure. However, this provides an excellent example of how easily a hacker can get a peek into your private home.
Today, connected devices can include everything from your home thermostat to your watch. While the growing IoT offers an unprecedented level of control and convenience, it’s important to recognize that it can also present some new threats that would have been unthinkable in decades past. Stay aware of the vulnerabilities in your connected devices and take steps to protect your activity as much as possible. Even something as simple as using a VPN like Hotspot Shield can give you an added layer of security.