Smart House Is an Oxymoron

A hacker broke into the system new parents were using to monitor their baby remotely.

When the parents got into the room, the remotely controlled camera was pointed at them, not the baby. The cyber attacker screamed obscenities and so on at the parents and baby.

Reacting as expected, the parents pulled the plug on the monitoring system. Foscam monitoring equipment was used. The company announced and posted a patch to make the systems more secure, but as of this spring, an unknown number of Foscam systems were still being used without the patch, according to an article in Forbes magazine.

The article concludes with a statement from staff writer Kashmir Hill: “As we increasingly bring Internet-connected devices into our homes and workplaces, we have more devices that can be hacked if they are not properly designed.”

Properly designed or not, networked devices are subject to being hacked.

The idea of a hacked baby monitor is disturbing. Other devices that are subject to cyber attack can lead to life threatening problems. Cars with controls that can be operated remotely is just one of these problems. Joshua Corman of I Am The Cavalry told Forbes: “If my PC is hit by a cyber-attack, it is a nuisance; if my car is attacked, it could kill me.”

Take this a step further. Remotely controlled insulin pumps have been hacked. The Forbes report discusses a conference in England where researcher demonstrated this in a successful attack. Again, a potential for murder and thanks to the way the security protocols on these devices are rigged, the murderer would likely never be caught.

It may be that you’re not worried about those kinds of attacks because you don’t have Internet-controlled devices. Really? How to do you get online from home? A US cyber security firm found 300,000 compromised routers in homes around the world. In 2012, a group of cyber criminals from Brazil successfully attacked 4.5 million routers and gained access to bank accounts.

In what is likely a true story whether or not this instance really happened, one Internet user got a divorce and lost the house he and his ex wife bought together. Before separating, they installed Smart controls on the heating and AC. After the divorce, the ex and her new husband did not change passwords for HVAC access. The former husband said he took great delight in freezing the couple and driving temperatures to South Texas levels.

If you want a really Smart house, do not install Internet controls on the most important devices and make sure your router has firewall protection and hard-to-break passwords.

The SMARTEST device in your house is a functioning, vigilant brain. Use yours.


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