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Smart Home Appliances Could Cause Another Internet Shutdown

smart devices

We’re living in an ever-connected world—one where convenience is a priority rather than an option. In fact, almost item  in your home may likely have an Internet-ready version of it on the market. Are these gadgets making us all susceptible to cyber criminals? In the wake of the massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that shut down hundreds, even thousands, of websites last Friday, security experts point out that smart devices have indeed played a major role in the attack.

Smart Devices = Weapons of Mass Disruption?

While a lot of major websites were made inaccessible by the recent cyber attack, it was rather curious that the DDoS threats weren’t directed at those domains at all. Instead, they targeted Dyn, a company responsible for rerouting web traffic for many of the biggest names on the Web.

The New Hampshire-based organization reported that the attackers flooded the company’s servers with so much fake traffic that legit users couldn’t get through to a number of sites. During the aftermath, experts revealed that the fake traffic came from all over the globe through “hijacked” DVRs and cameras with components supplied by the Chinese firm, Xiongmai.

Apparently, many smart devices are not secure and hackers used a simple malware software, Mirai, to scan people’s internet. They then connected to their smart home gadgets and enlisted them into their ‘zombie army’. Once the software uploaded its malicious code and essentially hijacked the devices, the hackers had complete control of them.

The scary part is that the DDoS attack could’ve been much worse. Malicious parties can easily hijack smart appliances even if their owners have set a custom password to protect them or they have basic security in place.

Indeed, the recent attack highlighted how vulnerable smart devices are to hackers. Even if network administrators could find a way to better protect themselves against susceptible smart machines, their measures could be rendered futile against the sheer number of unsecured Internet-ready devices found in many homes today.

Working Out a Solution

It turns out that the Internet of Things can be compromised with just a simple code of malware. Although most smart devices don’t hold too much important information, remember that such devices could be on the same network as your computer or phone. Cyber criminals can connect through your device to your computer to retrieve sensitive data.

Sure, manufacturers need to build better security in smart devices. Enhanced security measures don’t always sit well with products meant for mindless use, though. Aggressive, solid, and fuss-free security features have to come ready with the device, which a problem experts have been tackling for years.

Another potential obstacle to protecting smart appliances are the users themselves. Many people have trouble simply keeping their PC’s operating system updated automatically. So, asking everyone to regularly update their smart locks, lights, and laundry machines could be a hassle.

With a third of the items we have at home connected to the internet, it’s only a matter of time before we become victims of cyber crime. Unless the demand to integrate better security into smart devices is seriously addressed by manufacturers and authorities, the recent cyber attack could very well happen again.