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In previous posts, we’ve discussed using refrigerators as literal bombs launched by catapults and fridges used as bots to execute denial-of-service attacks against hapless networks. But now, all that is small potatoes when you think about the rapid push towards the creation of the Internet of Things.

Stephen Hawking himself recently posited that when true artificial intelligence is achieved, humankind is finished.

Are we helping things along by providing the network and Internet of Things that Skynet will ultimately use against us? Will we have to worry about the toaster in the corner coming to life and wreaking its revenge upon its former human masters? Will we end up running from shiny metal appliances (or your Roomba) in search of the lost colony at Roanoke?

Think about the growing prevalence of things connected to the Internet—home automation has grown from simple x10 based devices to complex networks of thermostats, door locks, web cams, lights, the aforementioned refrigerator and Smart Meters, which your electric company uses to monitor your power usage. Even newer car commercials are touting Internet access for devices while you are on the road.

Now, privacy definitely becomes a major concern with many of these devices. Your power company certainly knows when you are home and when you are not; there are a multitude of sites on the Internet showing hacked web/nanny cams; and the fridge stands accused of being a spammer.

As these things get woven together into the Internet of Things and are further integrated into our modern day life, what used to be annoying hacks can become dangerous and even life threatening.

Energy companies already have to deal with threats to the grid, as their infrastructure and SCADA devices come under almost constant attack. Meanwhile, researchers in Spain have already figured out how to shut down the power to a house by hacking Smart Meters.

What if they target your car next?

It can be done, according to the folks at the Center for Automotive Embedded Systems Security. Similar to the small plug-ins insurance companies use to monitor driving, a small device can be attached to a car’s computer and be used to essentially pwn a car. In a given instance, your car may be the target of a sophisticated phishing attack through the help of a less than scrupulous business offering to lower your rates. All you have to do is plug a small device into your car.

Additionally, your Google Nest thermostat may already be giving up your secrets according to a presentation given at the 2014 edition of Black Hat in Las Vegas. The researchers showed how a compromised Nest device could sniff out network credentials, act as a launch point to compromise other devices in your network and send sensitive data to the hacker.

At this point, it’s not like you can take your Smart Meter into the nearest Buy More and get it checked for malware. At the moment, it’s largely up to device manufacturers to begin to take security matters seriously. If you bake security consciousness into development you tend to get more secure code and firmware practices.

At the same time, when we do make the choice to connect our things to the Internet, we make the choice to learn the consequences of these actions. We make sure to have strong passwords (or at the very least change the defaults) and be a good Netizen.

It used to be that you could slip a doorman a few bucks to sneak into a log room or use a bump key. Now, smart door locks may make the task even easier if they have been connected to your home automation network.

The thief will make sure you aren’t home by looking inside using your own Internet connected webcam first. Once inside, the attacker can pretty much take whatever he wants.

Except the toaster, of course. Everyone knows to be afraid of the toasters.


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Image courtesy of ShutterStock.