Experts Present Theoretical Dangers Behind Internet-Enabled Home Appliances

Far-fetched theories that highlight the need for proper security mechanisms

By on April 30th, 2012 09:24 GMT

Security researchers from Norman put their imagination to good use and came up with four doomsday scenarios that could happen if Internet-enabled home appliances such as toasters, fridges, TVs, and alarm clocks would be somehow compromised by hackers.

While the theories seem a bit far-fetched, in a future where every single appliance will be connected to the Internet they might just come true.

It’s obvious that these days when researchers come up with new inventions and innovations they don’t put much thought into the security measures that should protect against misuse and online threats. A perfect example is wireless medical devices.

They’ve been around for quite a while, but only now, since experts have proved that they can be hacked into and altered with devastating effects, enhanced protection mechanisms are being taken into consideration.

So, let’s take a look at the toaster of the future, the one that we’ll be able to program directly from our computer, or from our phone. What if someone with an ill intent would hack into the programing system and set it to turn on and stay on for longer periods of time. Because of the heat, a fire could start.

When it comes to TV sets, it’s even more serious, because experts have already proved that they can be controlled via the Internet. Norman experts speak of brainwashing, but activists may argue that you don’t need to hack into a TV to alter someone’s belief system.

The temperatures of a refrigerator that’s web-enabled could be tampered with to make sure that the food stored inside it doesn’t last as long as it should. Fridges that store expiry dates could be programed to dupe their owners into believing that expired food is still good. In this case, food poisoning and dangerous bacteria comes to mind.

Finally, alarm clocks could be set to ring at random intervals to drive an individual crazy. Sort of like a Chinese water torture.

While it’s unlikely that these scenarios will occur in the near future, we have considered they were worth mentioning because the inventors of smart devices need to focus their efforts more on the security aspect of their creations.

There was a time when you could connect something to the Internet without worrying too much, but now, in the era in which online threats lurk at every corner, security must always be on top of the list.

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