Users are well aware of the possibilities offered by the network, however, they are not always informed about the risks involved when having a device connected to the internet. If once such risks were limited to computers, with viruses that could damage components or even steal sensitive data, nowadays we are more exposed due to products defined as “smart”. Starting from smartphones, passing through the tablet to the most recent televisions that provide the ability to surf while comfortably seated in an armchair, accessing your private e-mail or even your bank account for transfers and transactions.
Convenience, however, has a price that must be taken into consideration, namely the vulnerability to attacks by malicious people. It is good to clarify that there is no perfect device, free from any flaw and impenetrable by hackers, therefore, what you can do to limit the damage is always make sure that your device is up to date, installing updates every time they are made available by the producer without postponing them.
The importance of updates
The role of updates is not only to make real improvements in the stability of the software but also to fix any bugs that are discovered with use. The latest unfortunate and potentially dangerous event involved Sony Bravia series TVs, in particular the R5C models with firmware 8.588 or later, WD75 and WD65 with firmware 8.215 and later, WE75, WE6 and WF6 with firmware 8.414 or later.
These devices had a bug in the management of the PhotoSharing Plus program, small flaws that allowed hackers to infiltrate the devices of unsuspecting users connected to the network with their smart TV.
This type of attack is more commonly known by the name “trojan”, referring to the famous horse used in the siege of Troy, and just like Ulysses and the Greeks, the bad guys hide inside a construct considered “reliable” to cause damage. of a certain size.
In fact, do you think that they could have access to the TV webcam and activate it without your knowledge, taking photos and videos with which to blackmail you or exploit resources to mine Bitcoins (very popular virtual currency that is generated on the internet without a true link with the gold value, therefore subject to strong fluctuations that can increase its value in a short time) at no cost or even carry out DdoS attacks, real overload of targeted servers, without being able to be traced directly.
The greatest damage is certainly the theft of sensitive data, they could in fact have access to information about your life, your habits, hours, passwords and bank accounts from which to make purchases without your knowledge. A terrifying prospect when we consider that even the simple bursting into the home by thieves is a traumatic experience for many.
Is the brand important?
However, it is not only smart TVs that have such vulnerabilities and during the last year problems have been detected with almost 500 million devices of the most disparate brands, even the giants Samsung, Google, Apple and Amazon.
A problem destined to grow with the transformation of the whole environment in which we live. Smart homes are starting to be more and more popular, especially for the comforts they provide. In fact, it was once considered unthinkable to be able to control home lighting and heating with your own voice or to have a connection with the rest of the world, always available, on any electronic product. Rather than repudiating technological evolution, however, we should always be more informed about it in order to be ready to counter the threats of the bad guys that will never vanish but will become much more precise and difficult to identify.
To avoid a burglary at home, for example, we rely on surveillance cameras or alarm systems but we do not avoid leaving the apartment forever as it would be an absurd solution. Similarly, rather than not buying smart devices, you should make them impregnable with all available means, updates, antivirus and health checks on a weekly basis.
Raising user awareness about it could also have another important effect, forcing manufacturers to invest more in creating impenetrable software, with higher upstream spending rather than aiming for savings. Your power is the ability to decide with your portfolio which company to support and which to penalize. Before making a purchase, therefore, research as much information as possible on the integrity of the chosen device, avoiding it if risky flaws have been discovered.
Also, do not rely solely on the brand because as we have previously said, not even large companies are unassailable and you must therefore evaluate each device individually.
White Hat, the ethically correct hackers
Not all hackers come to harm, as shown by recent events involving one of the most famous youtubers in the world, the gamer PewDiePie, without his knowledge. Some of his fans, expert in computer science and network protocols, have announced through social media that they have managed to penetrate the defenses of almost 100,000 Google devices, but starting a video of PewDiePie on these asking to subscribe to his YouTube channel.
Hacker Giraffe, nickname by which the hacker is known, then stated that he had no bad intentions but simply wanted to raise awareness of the dangers of smart devices without any protection and, at the same time, support one of the web content creators who most loves. A singular action that has created nothing but inconveniences that can be easily solved by Google, hoping that they can improve the impenetrability of the electronic gadgets produced and placed on the market.
But know that there is no way to know if the person who infected you is a hacker who simply intends to report a potential vulnerability or if it is an attacker, therefore, although the so-called White Hats are socially useful and often employed by more prestigious companies, you will have to defend yourself equally from one and the other.