Recently, researchers have published new information on a strain of malware they have been tracking for more than a decade. Unlike other malware, which finds its way onto computers and similar device through corrupt links or infected attachments, this malicious program is installed directly onto the device before the device is released to the user. Thus, as soon as a user has the device and begins creating their own data, hackers have back-door access to that data as well as various systems controlling the device’s processes.
It sounds relatively standard — until you learn that the device in question is a pacemaker, and the processes controlled by hackers are electrical pulses keeping the user alive.
As computers gain more advanced security capable of keeping hackers out, hackers are turning to more and more obscure devices for capturing data and terrorizing the public. The new development of malware pre-installed on pacemakers is hardly hackers’ first steps into hacking unexpected devices; here’s a brief rundown of a few items in your home that could be corrupted with malware and working for criminal hackers.
Your Smart Hub
Alexa might feel like part of your family right now, but what happens when she starts willingly working for the enemy? Smart hubs like the Amazon Echo, the Samsung SmartThings, and the Google Home make living in the 21st century easier, giving you a single point of contact for every smart tool in your home. However, because your hub is connected not just to your other devices but also to the internet, it is susceptible to hacking.
Your Web Modem and Router
Earlier this year, a massive exploit in web routers infected hundreds of thousands (even millions) of users around the world with some serious malware. A hacked modem or router gives access to any device on your network, including your computer — which should already be protected with internet security software — as well as all your smart gadgets. Thus, it is best to diligently update and protect your modem and router with the latest firmware and network firewalls.
Cars have long ceased being mere means of transportation; now, they are packed full of amenities — most notably Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, by connecting to your phone, or your home, your cars are opening themselves to attack. For now, the worst that could happen to most vehicles is some tinkering with your audio, but as more features are controlled by computers — think driver-assist tools like parking, braking, and autopilot — this could be a serious safety hazard.
These days, televisions are little more than enormous computers; many of the latest models allow users to browse the web, download and install apps and more. Unfortunately, any time a device can access the internet, it can be hacked, and because modern televisions are capable of running programs, they can download many typical forms of malware, too. Protecting your network is the best way to protect your TV, but you might also periodically check for updates to your TV’s software.
Smart appliances are all the rage right now — who wouldn’t want a refrigerator that orders your groceries, a toaster with an app to program individual preferences or a washer that alerts your phone when the laundry is done. However, all these appliances can be hacked, divulging sensitive data to cybercriminals and depriving you of vital services you need in your home.
Your Baby Monitor
Imagine: You just put your newborn down to sleep and left to get some chores done around the house — but through the Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitor, you hear the whispering of a full-grown man. Darting into the nursery, you don’t find an intruder, but you can hear the strange voice talking directly to your sleeping child. To most parents, this is a nightmare — but it is one many have experienced. You shouldn’t expect hackers to have consciences; they are greedy and malicious, and most will do anything to gain access to your data and/or ruin your day.
Your Security System
A smart security system is much more affordable than ongoing third-party security. Usually, you only need to purchase, install and enable a few smart cameras to gain security regular updates on your home. However, these smart cameras use the internet to send you photos, videos, and messages, which means hackers can use the internet to gain access to your cameras. By doing this, hackers can determine how your property is protected and whether there are valuables inside — then they can sell this information to thieves.