Many owners of networked home appliances underestimate the risk that their smart home devices will be used by hackers to gain access to their network.
"They ask themselves: What does a hacker want with my networked fridge or my smart doorbell?" says Mikko Hypponen, a security specialist with Finish cybersecurity company F-Secure.
The reality is that these devices can be used as a gateway into home networks. Hackers can use them to infect networked computers with ransomware or to turn the network into part of a botnet, the expert says.
"We have not yet heard the wake-up call," Hypponen says. Many owners of smart home devices don't care if their devices have been hijacked as part of an attack network as long as the devices still work. "There is little understanding of the safety of others."
Users need to take more responsibility, according to Hypponen: "It starts with the backup of your own data – in times when more and more memories are stored digitally, when did you last make a backup of data which is dear to you?"
Overall, the trend towards smartphones and tablet computers has made the world safer, Hypponen says. Android and iOS devices are harder to install software on than a Windows PC.
However, the fact that the majority of Android devices are not equipped with an up-to-date operating system and can't be upgraded to the latest Android version is problematic. – dpa