Halloween Tales of the IoT Crypt

In the spirit of Halloween, we bring you some of the scariest internet of things (IoT) hacks that we have been made aware of.

While this does not really focus on website security, it is still an interesting topic when you think about cybersecurity as a whole.

Watching over a Baby

The first spooky tale comes from Texas where a mother has her house wired with a Nest camera to watch over her 4 month old son. The camera comes alive and some noise comes out of it. She springs to her feet and runs to the child’s room. She turns on the light and, boom, the Nest camera says:

“Turn off the light,” and, “I’m going to kidnap your baby.”

Because worrying about your child outside is not enough, you now have to worry about them in your home too.

A Home Sauna

A couple in Wisconsin had a smart home with a smart thermostat and some cameras.  They got home from work one day and the house was a warm 90F degrees (or 32.2C for our foreign readers). After turning it down, the thermostat moved back up and a voice began speaking from the camera in the kitchen.

The more tech we put into our lives the more open we become to these types of issues.  It makes me think of the meme talking about the three types of people:

3 types of hackers
Source: https://michaelblume.tumblr.com/post/169525456166/tech-enthusiasts-everything-in-my-house-is-wired

Ghost Behind the Wheel

A writer in St. Louis was driving a Jeep down the highway, when suddenly the air conditioning came and the radio began blasting music. The windshield wipers came on. Before he could try to slow down, the engine turned off.

Fortunately, this was an intentional experiment, and no one was hurt. Chrysler has also patched the vulnerability.

In contrast to fully mechanical vehicles, smart cars rely on computers for almost everything. The steering wheel isn’t physically connected to the axle to turn the tires and the foot pedals tell a computer when to apply brakes or gas. Where there’s an internet-connected device, there’s usually hackers looking to break into them.

Child’s Play for Hacker

The recent horror film Child’s Play imagined a world where high-tech children’s doll turns sinister. The concept may seem far fetched, but it’s possible the writers were inspired by real-life security concerns with internet-connected toys.

In 2017, parents and children were recording voice messages to each other with a cute connected stuffed animal. But those parents were shocked to discover their private moments were accessible by hackers in an unprotected database.

The toys were later removed from stores, but not before hackers could steal the private recordings of nearly 800,000 families. In fact, the vulnerability remained long enough that hackers were able to take the entire database for ransom on at least two separate occasions.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM)

It’s fun to think that October – the scariest month of the year filled with ghosts and goblins – is also National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Remember to be aware of the WiFi you are using, the passwords that you have (and should probably change), and how you set everything up on the internet of things.  We have started a series of posts on personal online privacy that can help you be aware of cybersecurity.

Stay safe, and Happy Halloween!

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