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The Hackable Smart Home

How an attack on the internet revealed big flaws in smart home security.

Here at Power, we’ve witnessed first-hand how the appliances industry is leading the way toward the smart homes of tomorrow.

From wall ovens that can be voice-activated to pre-heat via an Amazon Alexa device to laundry pairs that send texts when loads are complete to dishwashers you can connect with from the grocery store to check your supply of detergent pods, Wi-Fi-connected appliances are simplifying daily routines in meaningful ways.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) — the name given to the ability of various household objects like appliances to connect online — continues to grow, a wide variety of smart devices are providing greater access to information and offering immediate control from anywhere in the world via smart phone.

But does this convenience also make our homes vulnerable to dangerous attacks on the internet?

On October 21 this year, a series of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks caused widespread outages of major Internet sites throughout the United States. Thousands of online retailers and other high-profile sites were heavily disrupted for most of the day.

Experts believe these attacks were so successful because a large number of internet-connected digital devices, such as home routers, are unsecured. As a result, these smart products were easily manipulated to create large amounts of bogus traffic that swamped servers across the Internet. Despite being small, common devices, each became part of a coordinated attack that led to millions of dollars in lost online revenue.

So, can we expect to see more of these attacks on smart homes in the future?

Fortunately, this is a highly preventable problem. The biggest weakness in the system proved to be a lack of basic security. Smart products and connected devices should be given strong passwords, not left with default passwords that make them vulnerable to hackers intent on cyber attack.

It’s so very important that users learn to regularly update all smart devices to ensure that security patches are current and able to handle new threats. All smart devices should be purchased from reputable companies dedicated to taking the necessary security steps to protect this critical part of our infrastructure.

It’s obvious that the IoT is going to have a positive influence on the way we live our lives going forward. Even as we embrace new technologies, we must also make certain that we don’t get ahead of ourselves by sacrificing security for convenience.

The results of October 21 have reminded us that there are very simple ways to protect ourselves and our homes from outside attacks, and that connected devices — including advanced appliances — are safe and productive resources to enjoy now and in the future.

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