More than a half million smart devices in Barcelona, including webcams and baby monitors, are hackable, security firm Avast revealed at Mobile World Congress Monday.
Avast, along with IoT search engine specialists Shodan, found more than 22,000 webcams and baby monitors in the city are at risk of being hacked, which mean criminals can livestream video directly to the internet.
"If webcams are set to livestream for example, hackers or anyone can connect, making it easy for cybercriminals to spy on innocent Mobile World Congress trade show visitors, or oblivious school pupils, workers or citizens nearby,” said Avast CEO Vince Steckler in a statement. “That in itself is a privacy minefield, although what is far more likely is the possibility of a cybercrook hijacking an insecure webcam, coffee machine or smart TV to turn it into a bot which, as part of a wider botnet, could be used in coordinated attacks on servers to take down major websites.”
Even Coffee Machines And Smart Kettles Are Under Attack
However, it’s not just webcams and baby monitors. Researchers found more than 493,000 smart devices in Barcelona and 5.3 million in Spain overall that are connected to the internet are vulnerable to attacks. This includes home appliances, such as smart kettles, coffee machines, garage doors, fridges, thermostats and other IP-connected devices. More than 79,000 smart kettles and coffee machines in Spain were found to be at risk.
Victim’s Personal Data At Risk
Steckler warned of the risk of having sensitive data compromised, since smart device manufacturers collect and store private user data, including behavioral data, contact information and credit card numbers.
“In the future, we could also see cases where cybercriminals harvest personal data, including credit card information from unsuspected IoT users," he said.
Avast said the “problem is in no way confined to Barcelona, Spain, or indeed to webcams.” the firm recommends that people keep software updated and choose strong, complex passwords.
Other devices can also spy on people. Headphones, earphones and some types of loudspeakers plugged into a computer can be manipulated and silently turned into eavesdropping microphones through an exploit, researchers at Ben Gurion University in Israel said last November. Meanwhile, the German government recently warned about a talking doll that may allow hackers to spy and speak to children. A complaint over the toy was also submitted in the U.S. by consumer groups last December.
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