- Lighting, baby monitor, refrigerator or camera: home appliances may well be becoming ‘smarter’ by the day, but that does not necessarily mean that they are secure.
- Hackers may gain access to your home network through these weak links more often than you think.
- The first complete solution for viruses, phishing and malware combined with security for all smart appliances via modem installed software.
The rise in, and popularity of, smart appliances is also increasing the risk of your home network being hacked. Cyber criminals scan the net for unsecured appliances with malicious intentions. They shamelessly look in through your smart camera or gain access to your laptop through a smart doorbell. Whereas people would think of installing an antivirus program on their computer, they tend to forget to secure smart appliances. Telenet is therefore launching its ‘Safespot’ solution today, which will secure all your Internet-connected equipment and appliances. It consists of a combination of an advanced antivirus program and software automatically installed on the modem, which protects any Internet-connected equipment the customer uses. The Safespot app will enable you to monitor what is happening in your home.
Smart but not always secure
Activating or deactivating lighting through an app, linking the baby monitor or doorbell to your smart phone, or your television to Wi-Fi: we are connecting more and more equipment and appliances to the Internet. The research and advisory agency, Gartner, estimates that approximately 14 billion of these ‘smart’ appliances will be in use worldwide by the end of this year. And this number is set to double over the next two years.However, various test samples and data leaks have shown that these appliances do not always incorporate the same level of security. Only last year, Test Aankoop (consumer choice magazine) warned that hackers could enter your property through smart appliances within barely 20 minutes. And despite repeated warnings, the insecam.org website is still showing hundreds of live images of (hacked) private cameras in Belgium. A recent study by the Dutch Agentschap Telecom (Telecom Agency) also shows that smart consumer appliances are anything but secure, which means that, for example, the control of a baby monitor can be taken over. The Amazon web store even removed a type of ‘smart cuddly toy’ from sale because of security issues.
Just like a burglar eyeing up a house
The increase in - unsecured - smart appliances is making it very easy for hackers to enter your property (by virtual means) these days. It is not unlike burglars eyeing up your property to see if any windows are undone: if they manage to gain access to the Wi-Fi network through a smart doorbell, for example, they will also be able to access the data on your laptop. Or they use your smart camera to see whether you’re in or out. Smart appliances can also be misused during a DDoS attack: in such cases, your thermostat would be used as part of an ‘army’ of smart appliances to attack a server or company website.
Bart Preneel, Professor and Head of the Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography department at KU Leuven (university), tests various smart appliances every year. Often, security problems will manifest themselves within just a few days.Professor Bart Preneel: “In 2016, the Mirai botnet caught the international press: hundreds of thousands of hacked webcams were used to paralyze important internet services. And smart lamps have also been infected with malware that could jump from one lamp to another. The main problem is that developers of these smart appliances don’t invest enough in the security aspect, and in most cases, consumers are not prepared to pay more All too often, we assume that nobody would be interested in our smart TV, thermostat or camera. And that presents a problem, because you will often not be aware that your appliance has been hacked and is being misused, even when it has.”
A first total solution for cyber threats
With Safespot, Telenet is offering the first all-in-one solution for cyber threats. Not only does it protect customers from phishing and malware, it also prevents potential security leaks through smart appliances. To do so, Telenet activates additional software on the modem, which scans any traffic to and from appliances connected to the home network. Appliances that display suspect behavior, e.g. that try to communicate with a dodgy server, are isolated.
The Safespot app provides an overview of all appliances connected to the home network, whether or not they are secure and whether any attempts to infiltrate the network have occurred over the past few weeks. Customers can also block appliances connected to their network through this app.
Finally, Safespot incorporates an advanced antivirus program that can be installed on all laptops, tablets and smartphones in the home. It will protect these appliances on any Internet network, both in and out of the home. Links in phishing e-mails or fake adverts, for example, will also be blocked.
Bart Van den Branden, cyber security specialist at Telenet: Customers are aware that the Internet is not always safe, but they often don’t know what is the best way to protect themselves. Furthermore, the increase in smart appliances is aggravating the problem even more. Specific software can be installed on a laptop or smartphone to provide protection. However, it is slightly more difficult to protect a thermostat or refrigerator, for example. They are often ‘plug and play’, and once they are installed, we rarely check them. Standard passwords aren't changed or software updates aren’t installed. This is not unlike driving the car without putting on your seatbelt and is exactly why we are launching Safespot, which offers a complete solution for all appliances. It tackles all cyber threats and stops you becoming an easy prey for hackers, phishing and viruses.”
Telenet has worked in partnership with SecuringSam and Bitdefender, two IT security software companies, to develop this product. Telenet Safespot is priced at €4.99 per month, irrespective of the number of appliances.