Do You Ever Have A Normal Day?

Home automation actually increases the “attack surface” - the potential threats - of the home. Here are some scenarios to think about;

Given that voice assistants can now control Smart Home devices like lights and locks, and most do not distinguish or even validate the speaker, is it possible for thieves to simply ask one of these voice assistants to unlock the front door? Apparently some Alexa units  responded to a National Public Radio broadcast earlier this year. In one case, the owner claimed the broadcast caused his Echo unit to reset his thermostat temperature.

Once inside, the thieves could perhaps  control the alarm system,  have fun with the appliances and maybe even order pizza in case they get hungry while they go about their “business”. Again, we’ve already seen some of this, such as the case of the little girl who purportedly ordered a doll house and some cookies simply by asking her parent’s Amazon Echo for them.

What about hacking? It turns out that the Mirai botnet attack, one of the largest DDoS attacks to date, was perpetrated by hijacking several thousand IoT devices such as baby cams and WiFi routers. If they can be coerced into doing this, what else can they be asked to do? If your refrigerator is “smart”, could they ask it to warm up and spoil the food inside? Could the oven be instructed to go to broil and burn dinner (or worse?). How about turning on the sprinklers until the grounds are saturated, ruining your garden, and running up water bills? Let your imagination run wild…

Running a dragnet on the whole world

It’s not just the bad guys that can do this. Governments, cyber-commands, spy agencies - it's probably safe to assume that they are all researching and developing the next generation of exploits. This could allow them to spy on people, control devices remotely, or even simply shut them off entirely.

Coupled with analytics and cognitive computing / AI, it means that someone can now track your movements, activities, eating habits, exercise regimen, movie preferences,… the list is endless. An incredibly detailed profile of you and your life is now there for the taking, all by simply monitoring the Internet of Things in your life. They could even get predictive about your actions and decisions.

In the dystopian 1984, (or Nineteen Eighty-Four, as Orwell originally titled it), one of the protagonists in the book manages to hide some activities from the legislated, omnipresent surveillance. Today, we openly give our privacy away in the name of security and ease-of-use. The Internet of Things and Smart Home products may make that surveillance even easier for whoever wants it.