A Fridge full of Spam

In my first blog about how technology has changed over the years, I ended by stating we were just waiting on our first call from a troubled customer who couldn’t get their car to connect to the internet. 

Well, spare a thought for the poor technical helpdesk consultant who had to deal with a spamming fridge!

As more and more devices are becoming internet enabled, hackers are looking for ways to exploit these devices for their own use.  Or simply to create mayhem. 

But whereas traditional IT technology companies are aware of the pitfalls of badly designed programs and poorly protected software and hardware, can we really say the same for those companies who make household appliances?

There is some catching up to do, particularly as we’re talking very much on a consumer level here.  Your average fridge maker has never had to protect against someone exploiting his creation (unless it’s midnight and I’m hungry.  There’s some definite exploitation going on there.  But if I want to take what’s in my fridge, it’s my right to eat it, irrespective of my ever expanding waist!).

The same applies to TVs, heating systems, digiboxes, lighting systems, and how about a Kettle

As it becomes the norm for all these devices to become connected to the internet, hackers are looking for ways to use them for their own gain.

Hacking isn’t something to be sniffed at and if there’s a weakness, odds are they will find it.  And they’ll also find a use for that weakness.

However, as with any internet enabled devices, some basic steps should be followed – including changing the default password for your appliance, and making sure it’s being suitably protected by your firewall.

Doing any updates supplied by the manufacturer should also be a regular task; the same as when you run Windows updates on your PC/laptop/server.

All very sensible, but that being said, do you know how to run an update on a fridge, or change its password?  I’m pretty sure it’s not going to prompt you that it has an update pending, and ask you to install it.  And then hassle you every 10 minutes till you reboot it.

So where does this leave you, if your fridge is used to spam 1000s of people?  Well, at this point, your internet IP address gets a bad reputation.  And once you have a bad reputation, how do you get rid of it? 

I’m no Bob Khan, and I wish I could give you all the answers, but just the same as the fridge maker has never had to protect his fridge from hackers before, no one really knows what the extent of the issues is going to be yet.

And it then leads onto other smart devices which, if compromised by a hacker, could cause you some serious issues – smart locks anyone?

My best guess is that there is a whole niche market out there waiting to be exploited: the Smart Home Security company, who will do a penetration test on your house, try and hack your devices and then give you advice on how to protect yourself. 

And then for a monthly fee they will run updates on all your devices, reboot them as required and monitor their event logs for evidence of security breaches.

Sounds a bit far-fetched, but try explaining that to the poor consumer whose emails were suddenly being rejected – all because someone traced that Nigerian spammers email back to his fridge…….