Ah, IKEA. The furniture store probably best known for simple furnishings with not-so-simple assembly instructions (and simply delicious Swedish meatballs) is expanding into the smart home market with a new lineup of connected lighting systems. The furniture giant is diving into the IoT space with everything from standalone light bulbs (which run from a ZigBee hub, the same system on which Philips Hue bulbs operate) to pre-installed cabinet systems, and everything in between.
It’s the perfect marriage – IKEA, arguably the world’s most accessible furniture giant, is making connected living even more accessible. Now, smart lights and other screenless IoT devices like thermostats or refrigerators may not feel as privacy-sensitive as your computer, mobile phone, or even your smart car. But in today’s connected reality, cybercriminals can find vulnerabilities in any network-connected device and turn them hostile.
For example, back in November, researchers infected Philips Hue light bulbs throughout an office tower with a virus that let attackers control the lights. The cybercriminals used a drone that could take control of the bulbs to first spread the virus. From there, the infection jumped from bulb to bulb within the network, and cybercriminals used their control of the system to make the lights blink an “S.O.S.” message in Morse code.
Similarly, other white-hat hackers (or, hackers working for “The Good Guys”) have found vulnerabilities in smart thermostats that could potentially allow cybercriminals to lock down the devices for a ransom. Ransomware installation in thermostats could potentially very dangerous: imagine living somewhere cold in the dead of winter, and not being able to turn your heat on because cybercriminals have locked your heating system with ransomware. Alternatively, they could turn your house temperature up to 108º and refuse to turn it down until you pay up.
So, before you invest in any smart home devices, study up on these security measures for the connected home.
- Change the default password. Many connected devices come with default passwords like 0000 or 1234, which makes it easy to connect to your network for the first time. However, it can be easy to forget to change that password once you’ve got your system up and running. Remembering to swap the old out for a new, more complex password is vital to keeping hackers at bay and maintaining the security of your devices long after you’ve opened the box.
- Secure your network. Changing the password on your devices is one way to block out hackers, but it’s also important to keep them out of your network from the back end. Make sure your home network, and all devices connected to it, are armed with complex passwords. You may even consider siphoning off one separate network for your connected home devices and one for your personal computer and mobile devices. That way, if one network is breached, the hacker won’t have the keys to your entire connected kingdom.
- Safeguard your home. Go beyond locking down your networks with McAfee Secure Home Platform. Gateways that come protected with Secure Home platform protect all connected devices, including IoT devices in the home network, from connecting to known malicious sites. By securing all devices connected to the network through the gateway itself, McAfee Secure Home Platform adds an extra layer of security onto your connected devices. McAfee Secure Home Platform will be available on the Arris Surfboard Gateway and Humax routers in retailers across the US, Germany, and Thailand soon. Keep an eye out this Spring for gateways that have the McAfee Secure Home Platform built-in.
As IKEA rolls out smart lighting systems in their fast-furnishings model, and AI-designed personal assistants like Alexa and Google Home become more affordable and consumer friendly, we must welcome the fact that connected devices aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. By remembering these easy security tips, you can get the most out of connected devices with the peace of mind that your data isn’t up for grabs.
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