A recent study carried out by international data research centers and universities has discovered alarming cybersecurity flaws within Smart Home IoT devices that can be exploited for espionage purposes. To minimize the potential for privacy violation and other security risks, it becomes imperative that consumers have resilient cybersecurity controls, according to multiple data researchers.
According to a study published in the Association of Computing Machinery, smart homes tend to harness IoT devices with severe software vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are being exploited by cybercriminals to monitor residents’ behavioral patterns and expose their confidential data. Despite these risks, consumers continue to adopt these interconnected devices because of a lack of cybersecurity awareness.
"These vulnerabilities provide attackers with a clear idea of what [i]s inside your home and who is in it," says David Choffnes, Computer Science Professor, Northeastern University. Moreover, "we found that some apps exploit these vulnerabilities to collect information for purposes unrelated to their function," he added.
The report analyzed over 98 IoT smart home devices, which uncovered insecure network protocols within these interconnected devices. Researchers also found that the private information gathered by these devices allow cybercriminals to leak confidential information to remote servers through mobile apps and third-party software development kits. From the confidential information collected, cybercriminals can use it for “household fingerprinting, surveillance, and cross-device tracking,” explains the report.
To address these security concerns, the research team encourages consumers to learn more about the security vulnerabilities and risks of their smart home IoT devices. With greater consumer awareness, they can effectively pressure smart home IoT manufactures to augment security standards. Furthermore, the team emphasizes the urgent need for industry-wide standardization protocols focused on cybersecurity. One cybersecurity initiative preferred by this team of researchers is called "Matter", a common language adopted by certain smart home devices. This cybersecurity protocol requires constant authentication from users trying to access the household's network, effectively safeguarding their confidential information from unauthorized individuals.
Another potential solution is applying a Cyber Trust Mark on all IoT devices, considering consumers' lack of cybersecurity awareness. This US-led initiative aims to offer end consumers with the security information of IoT devices so they can make an informed decision before purchasing a potentially vulnerable smart home product. Although this initiative is yet to be fully implemented, it is expected to raise cybersecurity awareness among IoT consumers, while encouraging manufacturers to enhance the security measures of their products.
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