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12 Internet of Things hacks, and why you need to lock down your smart home in 2019

The most high-profile Internet of Things hacks and vulnerabilities - and how to protect your own smart home devices

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Computers and smartphones aren't the only gadgets in our lives in danger of getting hacked. Smart home security cameras, children's toys and even our routers, the device that takes us on the internet, are all vulnerable. However, that doesn't seem to be deterring people from buying connected devices.

We like these smart speakers, robot vacuums and video doorbells so much, that the smart home market is expected to hit $53.6 billion by 2022 (up from $24.1 billion in 2016), according to insurance company Assurant.

As we bring more connected products into our home in the coming new year, it's helpful to take steps to protect smart home devices from online attackers, the best that we can. Here are some famous hacks — and what consumers can do to try and thwart these attacks.

Tapplock

Tapplock

In the summer of 2018, a padlock which uses fingerprints instead of a key or passcode was found to be vulnerable to attack. Produced by a Canadian firm called Tapplock, the device is claimed to be the world's first smart fingerprint padlock, but security researcher Andrew Tierney from Pen Test Partners found it could be unlocked in under two seconds - without any fingerprint.

Tierney found that the lock's use of Bluetooth Low Energy, a technology found in a wide range of IoT and smart home devices, was its weakness. This because the lock could be opened with nothing more than its own Bluetooth Low Energy MAC address - which it happens to constantly broadcast.

The researcher then created an Android application which would broadcast the MAC address, allowing him to unlock any Tapplock he approached, in less than two seconds. Tierney described the lack of security as "completely unacceptable," adding: "To be honest, I am lost for words".

As with other incidents like this, Tapplock responded by issuing a software update to improve its lacklustre security. Again, this demonstrates the importance of keeping your IoT devices updated, but also serves as a warning that, no matter how secure a fingerprint system may be, poor design will mean doors are left open elsewhere - in this case, with how the lock's Bluetooth system operates, and even its physical toughness.



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