Smart Doorbells: are they worth the risk?

As technology is advancing, more everyday items in our house are becoming ‘smart’ devices.

 

What are smart devices?

 

As Techopedia defines it, smart devices are interactive electronic gadgets that understand simple commands sent by users. What makes these devices smart is their ability to connect to a network to share and interact remotely. Examples of smart devices we use daily are smartphones and tablets. Other daily household items that are smart include televisions and refrigerators.

 

As convenient as these smart devices are, they can come with great security risks. In particular, smart doorbells/security cameras. These devices can provide great security features, being able to see who is outside your home without the hassle of going to open the door or even leave the couch!

 

However, these smart products also come with risks, such as cybercriminals being able to eavesdrop on wireless networks and gain access to other sensitive data. Most smart doorbells have in-built cameras, which if hacked; cybercriminals are able to turn off. This is quite scary, as it gives cybercriminals and thieves private information about your home! Items such as smart doorbells have grown in popularity, making technology researchers such as the NCC Group very concerned about these privacy issues.

 

 

The NCC Group are global experts in cyber security and risk mitigation. They conducted research into 11 smart doorbells that are available on websites such as Amazon and eBay that mimic market leaders. Results from this research found these smart doorbells had weak password policies, lack of data encryption and excessive collection of users’ sensitive information.

 

Some devices could allow criminals to steal network passwords and use it to hack other smart devices in the home. Other devices were found to send users’ home Wi-Fi name and password unencrypted to servers overseas. This privacy breach violates safety and privacy standards of consumers.

 

So, are smart doorbells really worth the risk? And is our convenience worth our privacy?

 

Lisa Forte is a partner at Red Goat Cyber Security, who are cyber-security testing specialists. Forte stated that the more convenient something is, the less secure it is. The more devices that are connected to the internet give cyber criminals more opportunities to gain information that otherwise would remain private.

 

The investigation from NCC Group have highlighted there are several brands that are not putting the security and privacy of their customers first. If you are shopping for a smart doorbell, Forte recommends:

  • Purchase from a well trusted brand
  • Change the default password to something long
  • If possible, enable two-factor authentication

 

To recap, having smart devices such as a smart doorbell can be convenient, but is it worth risking privacy and letting cybercriminals into our homes? Before you purchase any smart device, remember to purchase from a well-trusted brand, change the default password, and if possible, enable two-factor authentication.

 

 

 

References:

 

BBC News, Smart doorbells ‘easy target for hackers’ study finds, BBC News, viewed 24 November 2020,https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55044568.

 

Lyngaas, S. 2020, ‘Smart’ doorbells for sale on Amazon, eBay came stocked with security vulnerabilities, Cyberscoop, viewed 24 November 2020,https://www.cyberscoop.com/smart-doorbells-amazon-ebay-ncc-vulnerabilities/.

 

Poulter, S. 2020, The ‘smart’ doorbells that can HELP burglars: Cut-price buzzers that are sold as offering security could let thieves into your home, DailyMail, viewed 24 November 2020,https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8976075/Cut-price-smart-doorbells-sold-offering-security-let-thieves-home.html.

 

Technopedia, What is a Smart Device? – Definition by Technopedia, Technopedia, viewed 24 November 2020,https://www.techopedia.com/definition/31463/smart-device.

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