Giving gifts to hackers: Don't be security stupid about smart ho - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Giving gifts to hackers: Don't be security stupid about smart home devices

Posted: Updated:

SPOKANE, WA - One of the hardest to find holiday gifts this season? Smart home devices; currently the Amazon Echo smart speaker is back-ordered until mid-January.

Just speak the command, and these hub devices will turn on the lights, the TV, find you music, control the temperature. But with more and more of us putting smart home tech on our holiday wish lists, KHQ sought expert help with the one thing you can't tell these devices to do: protect themselves - and you - from hackers.

For all their convenience, smart home devices have so far proved to be pretty stupid, security-wise. In one of the first-ever tests of smart home security,  the University of Michigan hacked into the top selling Samsung SmartThings home organizing hub, using a fake app that allowed researchers to unlock the front door at will.

But such a security breaches are nothing compared to the chaos we saw in October.  The Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that brought the internet to its knees used everyday devices - cameras, universal remotes, even washing machines and refrigerators - that were hooked to the owner's Wi-Fi.

To help solve your smart home security problems, we teamed up with Stephen Heath, Director of Security Services for Spokane-based Intrinium.

“We do security consulting all over the country, break in see if we can steal the stuff,“ Heath explained. “A lot of these new devices are so ‘smart,’ you can send a tweet from your fridge, I don’t know why you would want to do that but people have built this.

Heath says he doesn't have to test your in-house system to guess the most likely vulnerability: passwords that haven’t been changed from their defaults, when they're used at all.

“People sometimes aren't secure with how they set them up so if you know where to look people will have their home security mapped out with no username and password, so they can take a look with what is going on in some back alley in Detroit somewhere,” Heath said. In fact, with a few clicks of a mouse, our data investigator was able to pull up real-time feeds from  unsecured cameras in Spokane, across the country, and around the world.

Fortunately, there's a quick fix you can do right now.

1. Reset the product back to its factory settings.

2. This ought to wipe any malicious code that has found a home in your devices.

3. THEN change your passwords.

Once you've done that, Heath says keeping your smart home on the safer side of the internet boils down to staying off the bad guys' radar - and there, the solution is also surprisingly simple:

“Turning things off when you’re not using them - if you don’t need to send tweets from your fridge, turn it off: with a webcam, baby monitor, when you’re not using it turn it off.”

Just remember - even the smallest bit of information - like a smart thermometer that shows when the furnace is turned off  - can tell a compu-crook the house may be empty. “Don’t let people spy and find out you’re not home,” Heath said. “And if they do get in, give them less information to be able to deal with.”

Despite the risks, the buying frenzy has really just begun. The typical family is predicted to add up to 500 smart home devices -  from dishwashers to deadbolt locks - by the year 2022. 

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Tri-CitiesTri-Cities NewsMore>>

  • National police week memorial at Columbia Park

    National police week memorial at Columbia Park

    Saturday, May 19 2018 7:57 PM EDT2018-05-19 23:57:02 GMT
    KENNEWICK: National police week falls on May 15th each year and recognizes the service of U.S law enforcement. Today at Columbia Park local law enforcement agencies came together to recognize those who have served, and also those who may have died during a line of duty. At the memorial not only did the Kennewick Police Chief, Ken Hohenberg speak, but also a couple other former law enforcement officers. Kennewick Police Chief, Ken Hohenberg wants to not only recogni...More >>
    KENNEWICK: National police week falls on May 15th each year and recognizes the service of U.S law enforcement. Today at Columbia Park local law enforcement agencies came together to recognize those who have served, and also those who may have died during a line of duty. At the memorial not only did the Kennewick Police Chief, Ken Hohenberg speak, but also a couple other former law enforcement officers. Kennewick Police Chief, Ken Hohenberg wants to not only recogni...More >>
  • Kidz Dig Rigz at Columbia Park

    Kidz Dig Rigz at Columbia Park

    Saturday, May 19 2018 7:27 PM EDT2018-05-19 23:27:46 GMT
    KENNEWICK: "Ooooing and Ahhhing," that's what many kids at Columbia Park were doing today, during "Kidz Dig Rigz." Event coordinator and Kadlec Pediatrics manager Melanie O'brien says the purpose for this event is not only to raise funds for Kadlec's pediatric patients, but also to educate kids about fields like agriculture, construction and the fire and rescue team; all while having some fun in giant tractors and monster trucks. Tucker Maple was one of the firs...More >>
    KENNEWICK: "Ooooing and Ahhhing," that's what many kids at Columbia Park were doing today, during "Kidz Dig Rigz." Event coordinator and Kadlec Pediatrics manager Melanie O'brien says the purpose for this event is not only to raise funds for Kadlec's pediatric patients, but also to educate kids about fields like agriculture, construction and the fire and rescue team; all while having some fun in giant tractors and monster trucks. Tucker Maple was one of the firs...More >>
  • Family members in Zambrano case reach settlement agreement

    Family members in Zambrano case reach settlement agreement

    Friday, May 18 2018 10:07 PM EDT2018-05-19 02:07:48 GMT

    It's been more than three years since three Pasco Police officers shot and killed Antonio Zambrano. 

    More >>

    It's been more than three years since three Pasco Police officers shot and killed Antonio Zambrano. 

    More >>