Have you turned your residence into a smart home yet? This, of course, is when you have appliances, lights, televisions, air conditioners and more that can connect to the internet. They are known as internet-of-things (IoT) gadgets.
IoT gadgets are very helpful and you can even control them with virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa. The downside is anything that connects to the internet could be breached by hackers. A recent study shows many smart home gadgets are extremely vulnerable.
IoT gadgets are putting you at risk
We're talking about a study performed by researchers with the consumer group, Which? They tested a number of IoT gadgets, looking for vulnerabilities and found that more than half of the ones they tested have security flaws.
Researchers tested gadgets that include, wireless cameras, smart padlocks and routers. They determined that eight of the 15 items tested contained at least one security flaw.
One item they discovered with security flaws we actually warned you about months ago. It's a smart teddy bear for children made by the company Spiral Toys, it's part of the company's CloudPets line. Click here to read our article detailing the flaws found in the smart toy.
Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services Alex Neill believes that manufacturers of IoT gadgets need to take security more seriously. These gadgets must require a unique password before they are able to be used.
Neill said, "There is no denying the huge benefits that [smart home] gadgets and devices bring to our daily lives. However, as our investigation clearly shows, consumers should be aware that some of these appliances are vulnerable and offer little or no security.
"There are a number of steps people can take to better protect their home, but hackers are growing increasingly more sophisticated. Manufacturers need to ensure that any [smart product] sold is secure by design."
How to protect your IoT gadgets
Here are a few suggestions given by Which? to help protect your IoT gadgets:
- Set strong passwords - Many smart devices come with generic default passwords that are easy for hackers to guess. Set a strong and unique password, ideally with a jumbled mix of letters, numbers and special characters. Click here to find out how to create hack-proof passwords.
- Update your software - Keeping software or firmware updated means that the latest security is installed on the device.
- Complete the set-up - All smart devices should be connected to a secure Wi-Fi network. This is because many use their own Wi-Fi during the set-up process, which, if left unsecured, is an easy target for attackers located within range of the device.
- Location - Be mindful of where devices are located in the home. Those close to windows or behind thin doors can be more easily accessed from outside.