Here’s a topic we’ve covered a few times in the past, but this is an interesting spin on it: cyber security for smart devices on your network. Most people are very careful about protecting their computers and cell phones from hacking, viruses, and cyber attacks. But it’s important to consider the other devices that are connected to your network, like a Wi-Fi router. A router connects to your internet and your network, so it acts as a portal for potential attacks.
We had a client who experienced an attack that came into their network through a wireless smart thermostat. This device was mounted on the wall of their office and controlled the heating and cooling system. It automatically turned on and off based on the time of day and had both Wi-Fi and hardwired connections to their network. When the office opened for the week, the thermostat detected when people came in the door and when computers were turned on, and adjusted the temperature accordingly.
The Wi-Fi thermostat was also programmed to detect the number of people logged into the system so that it could adjust the heat load accordingly. It’s a good reminder that even seemingly innocuous devices can pose a risk to your network security. So it’s important to take steps to secure all the smart devices on your network, not just your computer and cell phone.
You probably have antivirus or protection software on all your computers, but your Wi-Fi thermostat is probably not a device you think of protecting. However, because it’s connected to the internet, a hacker was able to use it as a vector to get into other computers on the network. They were able to gain usernames, passwords, and logins through the thermostat, which became our entry point.
Anything that’s connected to the internet or your Wi-Fi network has the potential to be a portal for hackers. It’s like locking all the doors and windows of your house but leaving the dog door open. Someone could crawl through it, and your house would still be unlocked. That’s what this device did. So it’s important to keep track of all your smart devices, including garage door openers, lights, and any kind of automation. Smart devices are all potential threats.
Even if the word “smart” sounds sophisticated and advanced, if it’s smart enough to control your network, it’s also smart enough to do damage in the wrong hands. So be careful who you trust with your computer access, and make sure to take steps to protect all your smart devices.