The “Smarter” Your Home, the More Vulnerable it is

Hacking Smart Devices
If you’re a gamer, then you’ve most likely heard of Watch_Dogs. You may have even played it. Through that game, you play as a character that hacks into people’s phones to listen in on their conversations, traffic lights to control their function, and a variety of other devices to manipulate the lives of others. The hacking capabilities of your character both in this game and the upcoming sequel are surprisingly more true to real life than you would hope to believe. Game Theory has recently released a video on Watch_Dogs 2 that went into great detail about what hackers can do. Along with two other popular videos by Game Theory that also talks about hacking and the first Watch_Dogs game, this video talks about how hackers can reach you through your smart home and car, and just make your life difficult in general. This is something that can be both fascinating and frightening at the same time.

What kind of Devices can Hackers Breach?

Generally, hackers can obtain access from technology that can range from smart devices to more intricate systems. Below is but a small list of smart everyday appliances and other electronics that can easily be hacked into:

  • refrigerators
  • ATM machines
  • homes
  • cars
  • medical devices

A hacker would be able to manipulate the settings of these devices and pretty much get any of those pieces of technology to do what the hacker wants. You may not think it possible or even see it as a big deal. For example, not all ATM machines are connected to the internet, or what’s the worst that could happen if they hack into a refrigerator? One thing a hacker knows is that if it’s a device that contains information, then there’s a way to get to that information whether through conventional or illegal means.

Smart Refrigerators

Smart refrigerators can do all sorts of things, such as send you a picture of the food in your refrigerator to your phone and allow you to control the temperature remotely using your phone. If a hacker wanted to make things difficult for you, then they could raise the temperature of your refrigerator and spoil the goods contained within. That could provide a problem to your budget and require you to spend more money than intended. It could keep happening; the hacker could keep doing this to each batch of groceries you buy.

ATM Machines

Many people think that, in order to hack into electronics, you need a laptop or, at least, connection to the internet. This is usually depicted in movies and is also a common misconception. Take certain ATM machines, for example. It has been done multiple times before where someone hacked into an ATM machine using nothing but the keypad on it.

Smart Homes

A smart home is like the central hub for all of your devices. Be it any phones, laptops, or even coffee makers, all of your smart devices are connected through this home. It’s too bad that such a large focal point of your technology doesn’t have a built-in security system to prevent hackers from stealing all of your private information. Hackers would be able to do more than raise the thermostat in the summer to make you uncomfortable. They would be able to gain access to other appliances that can not only increase your electricity bill but also potentially cause damage. The security alarm can be turned off and allow people to break into your home.

Smart Cars

Here’s something that can apply to both smart cars and any car that practically has a computer built into it: someone can hack into your car. For cars that have the brake and gas pedal as well as the steering wheel connected to a computer, a hacker can take control of your car and make you crash. Even if you survive, it can seem like your fault. A hacker can do all of this without leaving a trace of evidence that they indirectly took the wheel.

Medical Devices

Next to smart cars, medical devices may be the scariest thing that a hacker can hack into. Particularly, there is a medical device that can control your heartbeat. This electronic can be implanted in your chest, and it helps monitor and restore the rhythm of your heartbeat. Known as pacemakers, they could be connected to virtual private networks (VPNs) that a doctor uses to check the hearts of their patients. This can allow the doctor direct control of the pacemaker by adjusting the settings. Sadly, this device isn’t protected by a security system, and a hacker could essentially ruin the pace of a person’s heart. Basically, a person with a pacemaker could die and no one would know that a hacker did it.

You May Think You’re Safe

Even if you don’t live in a smart home, have an implanted pacemaker, and constantly have a video recording in your car at all times you drive, there are other ways that hackers can find you. Remember when you charged your phone at that airport or connected to the internet at that Starbucks? Someone could have gained access to your phone and laptop without you knowing.

Now you may have security programs installed on your phone and laptop to block and protect from hackers. However, a hacker would still be able to gain access to those smart devices using a variety of unprotected appliances like those previously listed. What many of these unprotected devices have in common is that they are most likely connected to some kind of network. This especially includes a medical device that may be linked to a VPN. Through those devices, a hacker can gain access to a network and sneak past any security systems installed. They can then invade your privacy and steal any of your precious information.

The rush for convenience by turning what used to be common tools and electronics into smart devices can be detrimental to its users. Too quickly are these apparatus being made, as not enough time is left over for creating programs that protect these appliances. It can be unsettling to think that someone can easily take control of your life through your electronic devices. Could it be because we allow electronic devices to take control of our lives?

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