Internet of Things

How big is the threat to the Internet of Things?

Search engine Shodan lets users access images from badly protected webcams in just a few clicks.

29 Feb. 2016 Jörn Brien
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Search engine Shodan trawls through the Internet of Things. (Screenshot: Shodan.io)

IoT search engine finds unprotected webcams

With the increasing spread of networked devices in homes it is clearly time for users to pay closer attention to security issues with the Internet of Things (IoT). Security experts like Mikko Hyppönen of F-Secure are also suggesting this for 2016, as we can read in the article Were you cheating, a spy or a soldier? Then 2015 was particularly crappy for you . IoT search engine Shodan even has a special site where hackers can take a look at images from badly secured webcams, according to tech website Ars Technica .

That means you hardly need any technical know-how to snoop around your neighbor's living room, and also no paid Shodan account; with just a few clicks you can access webcam data without any special encryption. The site has been shut down again for now, but it shows what's possible when too little attention is paid to device security.

According to security researcher Dan Tentler, this is the sad reality today because manufacturers want their networked devices to hit the market at the lowest possible prices, and save on costs with security features. Such negligence cannot only open up your home to spying through webcams, but could make it possible for an outsider to take control via networked devices. Entire device networks can even be hijacked for denial-of-service attacks.

Security vulnerabilities in IoT devices

On the I Am The Cavalry website , security experts are working on a simple system for evaluating the security of IoT devices. For example, they check whether the devices are equipped with a weak preset password. Such standard preset passwords in routers recently caused a ruckus in Germany and Austria. Millions of web users were called on to change this password , because a leaked support tool made it easy to break it.

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