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Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Dark Side of Wi-Fi Thermostats


Technological advancements are happening faster now than at any other time in human history.  "Smart" phones, watches, TVs, and even thermostats can be purchased with ease by anyone.  Whether you want to make purchases online thru your TV or change the temperature in your house a couple of degrees from work before you head home, the conveniences are unparalleled.  But along with anything seemingly great, comes the realization of the risks associated with the potential downsides.  It's a known fact that anything considered to be Wi-Fi compatible is completely at risk to be hacked.  Tech analysts worldwide are adamant about the relative ease of hacking with all these new "smart" gadgets. 

It doesn't necessarily even take a tech savvy person to remotely access one of these said gadgets.  Take, for example, a review left by a jilted ex-lover on Amazon.com in regards to his great satisfaction with purchasing a Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat:

"Since this past Ohio winter has been so cold I've been messing with the temp while the new love birds are sleeping. Doesn't everyone want to wake up at 7 AM to a 40 degree house? When they are away on their weekend getaways, I crank the heat up to 80 degrees and back down to 40 before they arrive home. I can only imagine what their electricity bills might be. It makes me smile. I know this won't last forever, but I can't help but smile every time I log in and see that it still works. I also can't wait for warmer weather when I can crank the heat up to 80 degrees while the love birds are sleeping. After all, who doesn't want to wake up to an 80 degree home in the middle of June?"

More than 8,200 of the 8,490 Amazon users who have read the review deemed it "useful."  Security research engineers have heavily emphasized the inherent hacking vulnerabilities of these devices, even ones with the ability to restrict user access.  According to networkworld.com, more than 73,000 internet connected cameras were found to be streaming their footage on the web in any given month in 2016.  Consumers were found to have never changed the default passwords and unwittingly allowed hackers to stream the private footage from cameras that they had initially purchased to feel safer.

Higher-end "smart" home products are starting to be designed with higher security standards, and as the market matures, it's predicted that most all products will follow suit.  But for now, security standards for today's "smart" products are still a work in progress, so for the time being, consumers may still find themselves exposed to security-related vulnerabilities.

Environmental Heating & Air of NC
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