Dangers Posed by Smart Home Gear Emphasized at RSA 2019

Several presentations at the cybersecurity conference illustrated the systemic vulnerabilities posed by smart home security products and other IoT devices.

Peace of mind? I think not. Not when it comes to some smart home security products and systems.

It comes as no revelation that home automation gear is already highly susceptible to hacking. As the proliferation of smart devices in our homes increases, security researchers continue to uncover fundamental vulnerabilities to security cameras, video doorbells, baby monitors, voice assistants, thermostats and other off-the-shelf products.

This privacy and personal safety conundrum was underscored at the recent RSA 2019 in San Francisco. As reported by Tom’s Guide, several presentations at the cybersecurity conference “demonstrated how to hack home smart alarms, smart teakettles, networked storage drives, children’s dolls, kids’ GPS tracking watches, vehicle roadside-assistance services and smart-home automation systems.”

In one particular RSA presentation, Stephen Hilt and Numaan Huq of Trend Micro, a multinational cybersecurity and defense company, demonstrated how home automation systems can be something akin to Swiss cheese. These systems may provide convenience to users, such as controlling lights via smart speakers or smartphone apps, but they can also make life easier for hackers and intruders to break in both digitally and physically.

Consider from the article:

Whether the smart-home automation system is a “bolt-on” wireless one assembled in bits and pieces by the homeowner, or a “built-in” one with dedicated server boxes, Ethernet cables and wireless access points, the various parts, ports and manufacturers involved simply create far too many ways for bad guys to get in, Hilt and Haq showed.

The researchers hacked into an automation system, then used a smart speaker to give commands to a smart home’s voice assistant, which then let them unlock doors, turn off the home alarm, turn on the lights and even start the owner’s car with voice commands. They also figured out how to spy on a home using the home’s own security cameras — over Slack [a Cloud-based set of team collaboration tools and services].

“Complexity is the new enemy,” Hilt and Haq said in their presentation. “Today’s society is adopting connected technologies faster than we can secure them.”

You can read the full article here.

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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