One-third of Aussie homes at risk of cyber attack

Friday, 12 April, 2019

One-third of Aussie homes at risk of cyber attack

The increasing adoption of smart home devices — such as security cameras, smart TVs and gaming consoles — is causing a number of security issues, with Avast research finding one-third of connected homes in Australia are at risk of cyber attack. It only takes one unsecure device to threaten the security of the entire network, and printers are the weakest link in Australian homes.

The Avast Smart Home Report 2019 looked at over 16 million smart home networks and 56 million individual devices across the globe to uncover the biggest vulnerabilities. It found that 47.1% of digital homes in Australia have more than five smart devices connected, and 33.4% of these contain at least one vulnerable device. Ultimately, the more devices in a home, the more vulnerable it becomes to attack.

Although creating strong passwords is one of the most obvious ways to ensure security, over half of vulnerable devices (55.4%) in Australia were at risk due to weak credentials, while a further 45.1% were vulnerable due to not being patched. Avast President of Consumer Ondrej Vlcek said there are some simple steps consumers can take to ensure they maintain security in their digital homes.

“People use their smart TV to watch their favourite Netflix series or connect their baby monitor to their home network. However, often they don’t know how to maintain the security of that device,” Vlcek said. “It only takes one weak device to let in a bad hacker and once they are on the network, they can access other devices and the personal data they stream or store, including live videos and voice recordings. Simple security steps will significantly improve the integrity of digital homes. For example, the setting of strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication for all device access, and ensuring software patches and firmware updates are applied when available.”

Of the 117,773 Australian home networks scanned, the top seven most vulnerable devices in Australia were:

  1. Printers 35.8%
  2. Network nodes 19.7%
  3. NAS 19.4%
  4. Security cameras 11%
  5. Media boxes (set-top boxes, Chromecasts, TiVos) 8.5%
  6. TVs 3.2%
  7. Gaming consoles 0.5%

Australia was not the only country that struggled to secure printers, with them featuring in the top three vulnerable devices in every country and topping the list in Australia, the US, Canada, Singapore, South Korea and Japan. This may be due to the fact that printers are a much older and less commonly used device, meaning users are less likely to maintain them, the report said.

Avast concluded that there is a security gap in which users are expected to take action to secure IoT devices but the majority of vulnerabilities are caused by unpatched security flaws. While consumers are encouraged to continue to ensure safety via updated software and passwords, it highlighted that increased IoT usage requires better protection.

“In a perfect world, IoT manufacturers would be working with security experts to ensure a security layer is included in their devices,” the report stated.

To see the full report, click here.

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