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Networked Home Gadgets Offer Hackers New Opportunities

Artist's representation of a hacker attacking a home network.

Researchers warn that adding a new home appliance to a personal Wi-Fi network could increase the risk that data could be taken from other computers in the home.

Credit: Shutterstock

Kaspersky Lab researchers warn that connecting a new home appliance to a personal Wi-Fi network or broadband modem could increase the risk that data such as passwords will be taken from other computers in the house.

Appliances such as TVs, DVD players, and printers that connect to a home network are vulnerable to hackers, and these devices have no security protections built in whatsoever, says Kaspersky researcher David Jacoby. He recently hacked several Internet-enabled devices connected to his own home network and made a list of flaws in several typical products. Particularly vulnerable were two network-attached storage devices, one of which was easy to remotely commandeer because it had a default administrator password that was just the character "1."

Although there currently is little evidence that many criminals are trying to exploit such flaws, this is likely to change as connected devices become more common.

"Dealing with the privacy and security aspects of the Internet of Things is going to be one of the biggest challenges we have faced in security for a long time," says Lookout researcher Marc Rogers. He notes many features of security software that are standard on traditional computing devices also could defend these newer devices, but he thinks the optimal solution for many devices would be to not enable them to link to the Internet.

From Technology Review
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