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WhiteHat Security Issues Advisory on the Security and Privacy Risks Introduced Through Popular Holiday Gifts

For many people, January is primetime to finally install or deploy new technology like home care gadgets they were gifted during the holiday season. With that in mind, WhiteHat is reminding consumers to be aware and vigilant to potential security vulnerabilities that could exist in popular household tech and electronics.

These days, so many small household appliances are being converted to smart devices, as manufacturers increasingly leverage Internet of Things (IoT) technology to amplify the appeal to home users. Despite the convenience these devices provide, they also add security risks by extending the potential attack vectors into a home network via their WiFi-enabled links.

To make matters worse, most connected devices are built with limited to no embedded security features. These devices are not limited to, but may include:

The challenges for IoT-enabled technology products like floor-cleaning robots, wireless speakers, thermostats, doorbells, security cameras, pet-feeding devices and fitness trackers is that they’ve all been brought to market with the promise of making our lives and homes ‘smarter,’ and in some cases, safer. But reality can be quite the opposite, due to the potential to introduce vulnerabilities to the home’s network, or the capacity to invade personal privacy.

As an example, a floor-cleaning robot like a Roomba is connected to a WiFi router, and unlike a traditional vacuum, the robot vacuum can become susceptible to cyberattacks because the manufacturer may have hard-coded a password that can be exploited by hackers or didn’t provide a way to complete software updates. As a further complicating factor, many of these IoT devices don’t encrypt data transmissions, making compromise of personal data and privacy more likely.

To combat these risks, WhiteHat Security experts recommend users verify that the operating system software for each device is up-to-date before connecting it to home networks or deploying it for use. Additionally, whenever possible, users should set up two-factor authentication to ensure that only they have access to the device’s controls and functions. When comparing products, try to buy from brands that have a reputation for long-term product support and updates.  Finally, when in doubt, users can always shut off or significantly limit internet access to each device.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so you’ll want to exercise caution when using smart devices in your home, as research has proven they’re ripe with opportunity for hackers. So, be sure to do whatever possible to safeguard personal privacy and limit your home security risks.