Nowadays, we no longer use just our computers to connect to the Internet. We have our smartphones and our tablets that pretty much put the Internet right into our pockets. We are so connected to it, to the point that even gadgets that used to be “offline” can now be connected to the web. Gadgets such as media centers, game consoles, TVs, home automation systems, surveillance cameras, digital cameras, and the like are now Internet-enabled, making it easier than ever to connect. Very convenient, yes, but now we face this very important question: how safe is it to connect these devices to the Internet?
In our recently released 2013 predictions, Raimund mentioned that we will see more security threats appear in unexpected places. I find this forecast valid. Recent history has showed to us that the infrastructure used for new Internet-enabled devices can be accessed by third parties. We’ve seen researchers prove that they can gain unauthorized access to Internet-enabled devices such as printers, heart devices, and even coffee makers. A more recent example of this is a vulnerability found in Samsung’s Smart TV which can be abused to steal information and even “root” the TV.
So far, the focus of research around this is on locating vulnerabilities. However, while part of the research is done to provide better security for the end users, the other part accounts for research in order to identify new ways to steal money and information.
What makes the latter more alarming is that these Internet-enabled gadgets only have a basic IP configuration with few or no security options, making them very vulnerable. Also, people are unaware of the devices’ vulnerabilities, that they use these devices as they would their computers and put in information that can be considered critical. At this point, we’re talking no longer just the risk of unauthorized access, but information theft as well.
Of course, this does not mean that users should not use the Internet capabilities of their devices. They just need to do it with their own security in mind. Some good practices include checking the modem or firewall to guarantee that the device can only be accessed within the home network, and not using the device to access unfamiliar sites.
If you want to know more about what kind of threats we’ll be seeing more of this coming year, check our report, Trend Micro Predictions for 2013 and Beyond: Threats to Business, the Digital Lifestyle, and the Cloud.