Household devices you didn’t know could be hacked

28 Sept 2021

Below is a list of nine items you probably haven’t thought could be hacked. You need to find a couple of minutes to prevent.

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The common problem is the default passcode that comes with each device when you buy it (think ‘password123’).  If a scammer can access your Wi-Fi then they can start guessing the passcodes to access the devices that connect to it.  They use tricks like looking at pictures on your social media feeds to learn which specific devices you have in your home.  Once they have that, a quick search on Google helps them retrieve the manufacturer’s standard code and away they go.

We don’t expect our members to have all these devices but pick out those you do and use this nudge to go and protect them.

You can read a longer version of this advice by our friends at Readers Digest.


1 - Smart TV

It sounds trivial to think a hacker would bother gaining access to your internet-connected TV.  Would they really want to change channels or ramp up the volume just to annoy you?  That is unlikely.  Far more likely is them quietly ripping details from your account and payment information stored with Netflix on the TV.  The way to block them is to change the password for the TV to connect to the Wi-Fi router (every 3-6 months should do it).  Definitely DO NOT use the password that came when you bought the TV.  It’s likely you have never changed it so get online, look up your make and model and find out how to change it.


2 - Thermostats

British Gas and Hive, Google and Nest are the names that best represent a surge in these devices in recent years.  The fun part is turning the heating on via your mobile phone so it’s cosy when you get home.  The horrendous part is having it compromised by criminals who hold you to ransom by turning it up full blast to waste your money.  It’s going to be even more expensive now that gas prices have spiked!  Keep changing the password so it’s not easy to guess.  (Don’t use the same one as the TV).

baby monitor

3 - Baby Monitors

If they use Wi-Fi they can be hacked.  The default password that comes with the monitor is likely the one you used to get it online once you got it out of the box.  You need to hide that information from criminals sniffing around your network.  Make the device invisible to Wi-Fi scans if you can.  Otherwise change the password.  Go online to find out how.


4 - Smart Cameras

Home security cameras can be hacked and are vulnerable to attackers using the feeds for other purposes (like scam websites).  They are also known to disable the feeds or just turn it off.  As well as keeping the password up to date you should keep the software up to date as you receive notifications to do so from the camera manufacturers.  These updates are mostly improvements to fight criminals, so make use of them.


5 - Pacemakers (!)

Did you know that nearly 500,000 pacemakers in the US were recalled before being stitched inside a heart patient in 2017?  That was because of a security breach that showed bad actors attempting to gain access to the device to change the heartbeat and put the patient in danger.  All this was to be able to hold that person to ransom and take their money.  Ask your doctor about device security next time you have your annual check up.


6 - Amazon Echo / Alexa and Google Home

These are listening devices.  Once hackers get access they will use software to ‘listen’ quietly for sensitive information like account details, passwords or health records.  Don’t say too many details out loud.  Be as wary as you should be on public Wi-Fi. and unplug it when you go on holiday.


7 - Your Car

Keyless car fobs has been a boon for criminals.  A cheap signal amplifying device is used to pick up the frequency of the car key when you use it to open the door.  They go back when you are not around and get in by using that frequency.  Just being aware of people around you can help fight this silent crime.  This one is more of a risk for expensive cars.  You can read more about this crime here.


8 - Mobile Phones

We are not endorsing any products, just highlighting that they exist, but there are now spy signal blocking cases for phones (and car keys and laptops) like this one that promise to remove the risk that your phone can be cloned by a scammer walking next to you with the right kit.


9 - Wi-Fi Router

The keys to the kingdom are often obtained by hacking the router to which all other devices connect. Change the default passcode! We wrote about this previously here.

IPS View

We wrote this to get you thinking how much of your digital life is open to criminals if you use default passwords and don’t make it difficult for them.
If you are one of the average number of people these days struggling to keep more than 50 passwords secure then you might consider giving IPS 360 Protect a try. Right here at number 7 is the benefit that comes from the Norton Password Manager doing all this for you.
We have secured a deal with Norton that you can’t get anywhere else.  There is no contract and you can cancel anytime.
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