Father’s Day Tech Gadgets- Friend or Foe?

June 16, 2017 3:59 pm Natalie Thorpe

Thinking of treating your dad to a tech gadget this Father’s Day? You may want to think twice as many smart tech gadgets on the market today are open doorways for hackers and cyber criminals.

Recent years have seen a mass increase in the development and production of smart gadgets also known as ‘connected devices’ as technology evolves at an exponential rate.

The number of these devices available on the market is expected to reach 50 billion by 2020 which is cause for concern considering that around half the British population are currently unaware that connected devices can be hacked. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are always a popular pick for the tech savvy dad but is it worth the risk and how can you ensure safety from a cyber-attack?

Below we explore the key risks attached to these devices while dishing out a bit of advice on how to get the best out of your gifts without any nasty surprises!

Vulnerabilities

So, where does the problem lie? Embedded operating systems such as those used in the likes of popular smart home devices are often not designed with security as a priority and therefore contain security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities provide lucrative backdoors and can reveal integral data such as names, personal details, and even financial details to cyber criminals. It’s not even just data that can be compromised, the entire device itself can be hacked and manipulated.

Connected cars are the way of the future and are slowly but surely starting to gain popularity. However, a controlled experiment conducted by a couple of hackers proved just how easy it can be for those with the right knowledge and skills to take control of a smart vehicle when on the road.

This experiment does not relate only to cars, but also rings true with other connected devices which can easily be manipulated to perform other unpleasant tasks. For example, smart devices have been hacked and used for espionage. This was the case in 2013 where a baby monitor using internet connected cameras was hacked, or even more recently the Cayla doll scandal in which a child’s doll was hacked and used to relay creepy messages to children.

It’s not just children that are being targeted in these attacks. There are increasing amounts of malware being created to target these android based devices and criminals are employing this to utilise smart devices when launching wide scale DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on companies and organisations globally.  For example, in 2016, hackers took control of 152,000 consumer IoT devices to initiate a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on French hosting provider OVH. This allowed them to inundate the company, resulting in chaos for customers worldwide.

IoT devices can also be used to launch ransomware attacks in which the owner of a smart device must pay cyber criminals to resume service, for example to regain control of the thermostat in their home. They can also be used to steal personal data and details and used for fraud.

Our Advice

When mitigating the risk involved, we should be particularly wary of devices which use default passwords and provide infrequent updates. You can decrease the risk involved by changing the default password on the device before you begin using it, disabling unused features, modifying the privacy settings to ensure they provide top level security and being sure that the operating system is up to date.

Put simply, IoT devices are transforming our lives in terms of household tasks, entertainment, office work and beyond. From simple but smart door locks to connected lights and appliances, smart Bluetooth trackers, robot lawnmowers, to drones and smart speakers smart technology surrounds us and there is certainly no lack of choice when it comes to picking out the perfect gift! Ensure you are security savvy as well as tech savvy when selecting that gift this Father’s Day.

Interested in protecting your organisation from the kinds of cyber attacks we have explored in this blog topic? Why not get in touch with one of our friendly staff to find out more about how our solutions can help you and your business.