Saarland University researchers are studying ways to make home automation systems more secure, having found that modern smart home wireless automation systems can pose a security risk.
"Many of the systems do not provide adequate security against unwanted third-party access and therefore threaten the privacy of the inhabitants," says Saarland professor Christoph Sorge. As part of the study, the researchers took on the role of a malicious attacker. "Using a simple mini-PC, no bigger in size than a packet of cigarettes, we eavesdropped on the wireless home automation systems [HASs] of two volunteers and were thus able to determine just how much information a conventional wireless HAS reveals about its user," Sorge says.
The study showed that non-encrypted systems provide large quantities of data to anyone that wants to access the data, and the attacker does not need prior knowledge of the system. "The results indicate that even when encrypted communication is used, the number of messages exchanged is enough to provide information on absence times," Sorge says. He notes potential attacks can be directed against the functionality of the system or the privacy of the inhabitants.
Sorge says enhanced data encryption and concealment technologies would help protect HAS users' privacy, and his group is collaborating with researchers at the University of Paderborn on developing the technology.
From Saarland University
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