Securing the Smart Home, from Toasters to Toilets

Hackers have long wreaked havoc on PCs via the Internet, leading to data breaches and computer crashes. Now that the rush is on to add connectivity to everything from crockpots to light bulbs, the stakes get even higher—and more personal (see “More Connected Homes, More Problems”). Antivirus software helped PCs, but you can’t simply install a software suite developed for your desktop on a smart toaster; as a result, connected home devices typically rely on the user going online and setting up a username and password for protection.
 
A number of tech companies and industry groups say that “smart” devices are hitting store shelves with little in the way of security protection. Security experts blame a number of factors for the problem: startups may put security in the backseat in their haste to get products out the door, and established companies that have traditionally operated offline—like stereo or TV manufacturers—could simply fail to realize that they need to protect against threats when it comes to Internet-connected gadgets.
 
“They’re not being stupid,” says Marc Rogers, lead security researcher at mobile security company Lookout. “It’s just not something they’ve had to deal with.”
 
So while companies roll out everything from “smart” lights and door locks that you can control with a smartphone to connected toilets and blood-pressure monitors, a movement is also afoot to make these products as secure as possible.

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