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Beware: Smart light bulbs could expose you to cyberattacks

It’s incredible how fast smart home technology has been adopted. Smart home products and services make domestic life more convenient and luxurious than ever, but they do have their downsides. There are tons of privacy issues we’ve seen this year. Click or tap to see how smart TVs keep tabs on your viewing habits.

In spite of this, people continue to buy smart home items. Industry analysts are concerned and predict a rise in dangerous hackings and security breaches. They’re placing the blame squarely on some of the most popular smart home products of all: smart light bulbs.

If you use smart bulbs in your home, you might be opening yourself up to security risks. Here’s why smart bulbs are a major target for hackers, as well as what you can do to secure your smart home from intruders.

Smart bulbs, not-so-smart security

According to a report prepared by security analysts at the University of Texas at San Antonio, smart bulb products are a potential cybersecurity risk.

The research team tested more than 6 brands of smart bulbs and determined they present unique hacking vulnerabilities when not properly secured, and can act as a gateway for hackers to wreak more havoc on your network than they would be able to otherwise.

The issues primarily come from the fact that smart bulbs are simple computers that connect directly to the internet. Their simplicity makes them easy to hack and their internet connectivity transforms them into doorways for hackers to enter your home network.

For users who connect their smart bulbs to other devices like phones and computers, these networked devices are also at risk.

 

Related: ‘Internet of things’ connected cars will invade your privacy

 

Some of the tests performed by researchers included infrared control hacks, which would prove whether the bulbs could be hacked wirelessly. The results revealed this is only effective within a 50-meter range, but does provide direct access to other connected devices on the network.

To protect consumers, the research team suggests manufacturers include stronger authentication protocols that block unauthorized access from outside connections. They also suggest users take up stronger security precautions when setting up smart home products on their networks.

I use smart bulbs! How can I protect my network?

The security report wasn’t all doom and gloom —  users have a few ways they can protect their networks from invasion via smart bulb. One of the key recommendations is for users to seek out smart home products that rely on a central hub, rather than direct internet connections.

A hub centralizes the connections of all other bulbs or smart home products into a single outlet. Hubs also contain more complex computer hardware, as well as encryption, which can make hacking more difficult for external attackers.

Securing your router is one of the most effective deterrents to hijacking as well. Beyond encryption, there are multiple ways to set up your router that can help keep the devices on your network safe from attacks. Click or tap for the best methods to secure your router from hackers.

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