Internet of Things (IoT) that include a wide array of devices including smart TVs, connected cars and wearable devices have been around for quite some time. Yet not many users are aware of the security measures that can help them protect their IoT devices from hackers.

A smart home, for instance, features connected thermostats and security cameras. However, most people living in these smart homes are not always mindful that even their security cameras can be hacked.

The IoT technology may have made our lives more convenient. However, unless the devices are secured against hacking, using them is a risky proposition. It’s not just about a user’s privacy, but even lives can be endangered if a user’s personal data falls into nefarious hands.

In March, a Wikileaks expose revealed about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using “Weeping Angel” to hack into the smart TVs and listen to the private conversations of people. The hacking tool was developed by the intelligence agency’s Embedded Devices Branch in tandem with the United Kingdom, according to a press statement issued by the international non-profit at the time.

In July, the Department of Defense (DoD) identified several security risks associated with the IoT devices. The emerging security implications associated with IoT devices were published in a Government Accountability Authority (GAO) report titled “Internet of things: Enhanced Assessments and Guidance Are Needed to Address Security Risks in DOD.” 

The DoD has issued policies regarding the use of IoT devices, but according to the GAO report, even the DoD advisory doesn’t cover all the issues related to the devices. The report explains the security risks by giving an example of how a smart TV can be easily hacked by an employee of your internet service provider to record private conversations, which can then be accessed by an adversary to access your smartphone.

Connected cars are equally vulnerable to hacking. If you are using a connected car or a semi-autonomous car, the software controls can be hacked into, that can even endanger the rider’s or driver’s safety. A hacker can not just listen to your private conversations, but even take control of the vehicle from the driver.

The GAO report lists some generic recommendations for the DoD, including “regular security surveys of the devices’ software to plug any vulnerabilities that would make them susceptible to hacking,” and “regular review and assessment of security policies.”

Apart from these recommendations, it is important to create security protocols for different product categories that would require manufacturers to create security barriers around these devices.

The IoT market has already taken off and the dependability on the connected devices is increasing by the day. From consumer electronics to drones and cars, connected devices include all that we need every day to make life easy every day. However, unless such protocols are put into place, it will be difficult to ensure consumer safety.