It is impossible not to notice how the world around us is changing so drastically. More specifically, how technology stretches out to accommodate unimaginable ideas. Internet of things (IoT) devices are basically any device with the word “smart” attached to it. They’re a simple network of physical objects that uses sensors to capture embedded connectivity, thereby adding value.
What the Ecobee does is simply streamline the climate control in homes. But is the Ecobee safe and secure? To access its prime functions, Ecobee uses the internet to function. This, by default, bears an underlying risk, coupled with other vulnerabilities about the IoT technology.
In this article, we will cover all of this and more. So, keep reading!
What Makes IoT Devices Unique?
IoT devices are a leading industry in revolutionizing how appliances function. Undeniably, the convenience they offer users is where its biggest attraction lies. The technology bypasses many of the responsibilities of handling cumbersome devices manually. Below are some of the benefits of IoT devices:
- Monitoring data: The primary function of IoT is monitoring. It gives you timed updates about situations like your home’s air quantity, the temperature of your refrigerated items, or listens to your commands to play a song. These are just some of the things a smart device can do.
- Faster Operations: With the amount of data IoT provides, multiple tasks are executed in a shorter amount of time. For instance, IoT devices make automation seamless. Innovative industries employ automation for repetitive tasks. This allows the employees to channel their energy into more challenging tasks.
- Optimized time management: Judging IoT’s mode of operation, they are great time-saving machines. You can check out the latest news on your mobile phone or blog posts on your daily commute. You can also shop for items from the convenience of where you are.
This is one thing that makes IoT genuinely exceptional when saving you time.
Ecobee’s uniqueness stems from its integration with other technology in a smooth fashion. Its minimalist design and its resourceful dashboard make control indeed hitch-free.
Some of the benefits of Ecobee are:
- Features remote sensors: Versions like Ecobee 4’s most vital point is its integration of remote sensors. Their function is maximized best when paired with remote sensors located in any room of your choice. They can be set up to work with 32 sensors at maximum.
These sensors can automatically detect your precise home location and switch from home to away. In Ecobee 4, these room sensors provide the exact temperature you prefer in each room.
- Minimizes energy cost: Featuring an intelligent thermometer, homeowners can save up to 23% per year on previous spending costs on cooling and heating. This could be an added advantage to your economy since you can now channel that salvaged fee to other things that need attention in your home.
- Home IQ provides energy auditing: Another exciting feature of the Ecobee is its home IQ. It functions to keep you aware of your energy consumption rate. Its functions don’t stop here. Information about the overall performance of your equipment is also provided.
What are the Security Flaws of IoT Devices?
With this impressive technology, you may be tempted to assume smart devices like the Ecobee are untouchable. On the contrary, smart devices are of profound interest to hackers as they can serve as a gateway to break into your network.
Many IoT devices have been known to have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain remote access. Some others have been found to have weak passwords that can be reset at a finger snap. In the worst cases, a smart device usually has both.
The scary thing about vulnerabilities like this is that they provide hackers unrestricted access to other devices connected to the IoT device.
Hackers target standard IoT devices, including routers, IP cameras, and smart locks. When hackers compromise the IP address of the IoT device, they will use that as a pivot point to go and reach out to other devices on the same network.
Vulnerabilities like weak passwords and the default usernames that come with the shipped product make it easy for attackers to compromise. They could also use brute force to guess passwords. Some of the malicious activities that affect IoT devices can be used for include:
- Sending random spam emails to victims
- Creating a botnet in order to perform crypto mining or DDoS attacks
- Creating ad-revenue click scam
- Credential stuffing attacks against other targets
The first attack on IoT devices like smart thermostats was reported in 2016 by security researchers in the United Kingdom. This ransomware attack indeed erected new possibilities in hacking intelligent devices. It also raises fresh concerns about the future of IoT devices in terms of privacy and security.
In this first proof-of-concept (PoF) ransomware attack, the exploitation was based on the weak defenses of the thermostat program. The thermostat at the time ran a large LCD using a modified version of the Linux operating system. It also required an SD card slot that allowed its users to load wallpapers.
The thermostat’s inability to screen the files running and executing on it helped the attackers. Because of this vulnerability, the malware was fed into the thermostat, consequently resetting the regular operation and displaying a ransom note.
With this, gateways for OS compromise, crypto locking and fraud were open. This is one serious safety concern of many users of smart devices. Sadly only a few adjustments have been made in recent times.
How Can I Secure My IoT Devices?
Truthfully, a more connected home makes life easier for you. However, with more network devices in your home or work place comes the very common risk of cyber intrusions. So, how do you protect your privacy from being invaded through your IoT device?
- Change your router’s default name
- Choose a unique and strong password
- Create a separate Wi-Fi network for your IoT device (network segmentation)
- Disable options you don’t use in the network device’s settings
- Enable multi-factor authentication on all of your accounts and network devices
- Adopt the use of Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW)
The ball is in your court when it comes to keeping your IoT device safe from hackers. Always research the product you’re buying to know if it receives updates from the manufacturer. It’s also wise to research any found vulnerabilities and if they were remediated by the manufacturer.
Truthfully, this cost time and money. But it’s better to understand the risks of IoT devices before you buy them so you know and understand the risks.