Smart Home Security

Smart Home Security

In this presentation, I cover cybersecurity in smart homes. I focus on four main areas: the rise of smart devices, vectors of attack on smart homes, the dangers of cybersecurity breaches in smart homes, and ways to increase security. The reason that I chose to cover a survey of vectors of attack rather than a more detailed study of one or two popular attack methods is that the individual attacks are not technically different from other security issues. What is unique about smart home security is the large number of vectors of attack, as well as the potential danger of breaches. Below is a summary of my presentation.

  • Introduction
  • Rise of Smart Devices
    • There has been a rapid growth of Internet-connected devices
    • One of the first steps was the introduction of smart devices into home networks
    • There are estimated to be 20 billion smart devices in use by 2020 (Lemos, 2015).
    • Smart devices provide convenience, energy savings, and increased home security
    • Lately, products that exist to be a hub for smart home devices have become more popular to help consumers manage growing number of smart devices
  • Attack Vectors
    • Challenge of smart homes: large number of attack vectors since devices are meant to be interconnected and easily accessible
    • Man-in-the-middle attack on public WiFi while user checks on status of home
    • A lost cellphone compromises the entire house
    • Once one device on home network is compromised, this device can act as a “Trojan Horse” into the rest of the network (sending false messages, etc.)
    • SmartApps – third-party apps built to interact with the popular SmartThings platform – allows potential malware disguised as convenient apps to be presented to consumers for download. Overprivileging of apps allows easy manipulation of system.
  • Dangers of a Compromised Smart Home
    • Depending on the type of smart devices used by the consumer, potentially provides a literal open window into the house
    • Very personal data stolen
    • Massive number of smart devices provides opportunity for massive DDOS attacks such as the October 2016 Dyn attack
    • CIA document leak on March 7, 2017 mentioned a program developed by the CIA that allowed recording of audio by Samsung SmartTV’s and forwarding of this audio to CIA servers, even when the TV was turned off
  • Improving Security in Smart Homes
    • Two avenues: manufacturer security and consumer security
    • Manufacturer security improvements:
      • Use encryption in all communication
      • Password strength should be enforced
      • Notify users of sessions initiated from a new device
      • Maintain fine-grained privileging of applications
    • Consumers security improvements:
      • Do NOT buy used devices
      • Use strong passwords
      • Shop with security in mind
      • Update device software regularly
    • Conclusion
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