Hackers can use smart devices to gain access to your home.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on October 16, 2017

Cyber-attack and burglaries will be made easier by the advent of the ‘smart home’.

That’s the message from researchers at UNSW and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

I’m being watched, but for how long? What did that person see from me?

In a recent report, security concerns have been raised over smart home devices like light bulbs, power switches, TVs and webcams.

Tests carried out on the internet-connected products have found weaknesses that hackers could exploit. Potentially it could allow criminals to learn personal information about the occupants, take control of devices, and discover when residents are not at home and what security system is in place.

“Our tests were consistent and alarming. Every device we tested showed some form of vulnerability — many allowed potentially serious safety and security breaches,” the Inside Job: Security and Privacy Threats for IoT Devices report states.

“With hundreds of consumer IoT (internet of Things) devices emerging over the coming months and years, these tests show that manufacturers must act urgently to combat a range of diverse vulnerabilities.”

Lead author Professor Vijay Sivaraman recommends updating product software if it’s done manually, and to change default passwords after purchase.

How many smart devices are we operating?

Telsyte reported earlier this year that Australia was in the grip of an IoT at home revolution.

The research specialist estimates that the average Australian household in 2017 has almost 14 internet-connected devices. It expects that figure to rise sharply to 31 by 2021, with 14 of these being IoT at home devices.

By 2021, in total, Australian households are expected to have 311 million connected devices, of which nearly half are expected to be new IoT at home devices.

Webcam horror story

This report follows the harrowing ordeal of Dutch woman Rilana Hamer.

Earlier this month, Ms Hamer watched in disbelief as her internet-connected webcam started swivelling of its own accord.

“I heard, bonjour madame,” she wrote in a Facebook post that has since gone viral. “I moved to the left and right, and the camera came with me”.

Ms Hamer then filmed a clip which appears to show a mumbled voice having a conversation with her as she screams “get out of my house”.

“My privacy, my house, my personal stuff and myself… I’m scared.. terrified,” she wrote.

“I’m being watched, but for how long? What did that person see from me?”