Smart home device manufacturers must do more to protect users from hacking

Two in five smart homes are at risk from unpatched devices and weak credentials, report finds

IoT

More needs to be done by IoT manufacturers to protect users' smart home devices from being hacked, according to research.

The 2019 Avast Smart Home Report said that 40.3% of homes worldwide have more than five smart devices connected and 40.8% of these digital homes worldwide contain at least one vulnerable connected device.

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The majority (69.2%) of vulnerable devices in households worldwide were found to have weak credentials, such as using passwords or one-factor authentication. A further 31.8% of these devices worldwide were vulnerable due to not being patched.

The report said that, in a perfect world, "IoT manufacturers would be working with security experts to ensure a security layer is included in their devices".

"The current approach to securing IoT devices is to expect the user to take action and understand how to accomplish this even when the majority of vulnerabilities are caused by unpatched security flaws, which is extremely concerning," the report continued.

"This approach creates a security gap - and a massive opportunity for cybercriminals. With a high diversity of IoT devices on the market, it is difficult and complex to provide protection at the device level, and therefore smart home security needs to begin and end at the network level."

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Avast also scanned 11 million routers worldwide and found that over half (59.7%) worldwide either have weak credentials or software vulnerabilities. According to the report, out-of-date software is often the weakest link in the security chain, making it an easy gateway for cyber criminals looking to access other connected devices.

"Simple security steps like setting strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication for all device access and ensuring software patches and firmware updates are applied when available, will significantly improve digital home integrity," said Ondrej Vlcek, president of consumer at Avast.

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