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article imageCybersecurity risk with smart bulbs and other home devices

By Tim Sandle     Feb 9, 2020 in Technology
It was recently discovered that a firmware flaw in Philips Hue smart bulbs allows hackers to potentially spread malware throughout a network. Is this flaw with IoT devices part of a growing trend?
The smart home market is ever-expanding, from lightbulbs, thermostats, and doorbells, to dishwashers and even your front door locking system, each connected to the Internet and forming an integrated network. There were an estimated 14.2 billion connected devices used in 2019, and by 2021, the total number will reach 25 billion, according to Gartner. This opens up new threats from hackers and data privacy concerns.
With the smart bulb issue, Tech Republic reports on a Check Point Research study which finds that many Philips Hue smart light bulbs have a flaw in their firmware. This weakness presents an opportunity for hackers to take control of an individual bulb and to direct malicious firmware into the system. Once in it is then possible for hackers to spread other malicious software throughout a smart home or smart business network.
Writing to Digital Journal, Mike Riemer, Global Chief Security Architect at Pulse Secure, sees the smart bulb risk as a part of a growing trend. Riemer states: “Smart bulbs are just another example of how the Internet of Everything continues to expand the enterprise attack surface. While lighting appears innocuous, anything connected to a corporate network can pose a threat."
Riemer goes on to day: "Many IoT devices have open default settings and require configuration and patch hygiene. To manage this risk, organizations must invoke a Zero Trust approach to make any connected device visible, verified, segregated and monitored. Strong endpoint security enforcement assures that defenses can scale as IoT adoption increases.”
Loss of personal data
To illustrate this, a survey by Rambus finds that an estimated 80 percent of IoT devices are vulnerable to being hacked. As well as denial-of-service attacks, as with the smart bulb example, other forms of attack include the theft of personally identifiable information. This can arise from the loss of data generated by unprotected smart appliances.
Data privacy concerns
There are privacy issues to contend with as well, as an article by CNBC points out. This focuses on news stories about smart assistants listening conversations, with the data collected and analyzed in order to construct detailed profiles about device owners so that advertisements can be targeted.
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