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5 Real Reasons Why IoT Devices Are Vulnerable (2023)

Why IoT Devices Are Vulnerable

Nowadays, you’ll have difficulty finding someone who doesn’t own an IoT device.

But despite being extremely common… 

IoT gadgets aren’t as secure as you’d think.

They have various vulnerabilities.

And knowing what they are is crucial in protecting your devices’ data. 

Continue reading to find out:

  • How voice assistants can threaten your privacy. 
  • 5 surprising reasons why IoT devices are vulnerable. 
  • What could happen if a hacker guesses your gadgets’ default passwords. 
  • And this is just the beginning…

5 reasons why IoT devices are vulnerable

#1: Weak default passwords 

Many IoT devices come with default credentials.

And although they help shorten your setup process…

The default passwords of smart gadgets are usually extremely weak or common. 

So, hackers can easily crack or even search them online. 

To give you some examples, here are the…

Default usernames and passwords of some popular IoT devices

HP printeradmin/administrator Admin/1234567/admin 123
Canonadmin/administrator canon/7654321
Asus router admin/root admin/root

Now, if IoT users customize their devices’ credentials immediately…

Weak default passwords wouldn’t be a big vulnerability problem.

However, smart companies rarely advise people to change their devices’ credentials. 

Hence, many don’t even know how risky not customizing their passwords are. 

“What could happen if a hacker guesses my device’s login credentials?” 

Well, it depends on the type of gadget you have.

But to give you an example, if the device compromised is your router… 

Then, the hacker would be able to:

  • Check the online activities of your gadgets.  
  • View which devices are connected to your WiFi. 
  • Access the data saved on your smart home’s cloud or online database. 

Or worse, they could even gain total control of your IoT devices. And commit hideous acts like:

  • Unlocking your smart door. 
  • Disabling your smart security alarm. 
  • Cranking up the temperature of your smart appliances to cause a housefire. 

Interesting fact: In 2016, the Mirae botnet launched a massive DDoS attack. It scanned poorly secured IoT accounts. And accessed over 400,000 gadgets illegally by using 60 common default credentials. Like the ones I’ve listed above. 

#2: Unsecured network 

When I gave tips to secure your smart home in a previous article… 

I advised sticking to reputable smart companies. 

Because big brands usually secure their IoT devices better.

After all, they have a reputation to keep.

Unfortunately, though… 

Even the biggest companies can’t completely secure their IoT devices. 

See, cyber security experts conducted a case study in 2017. Where they attempted to “hack” popular IoT speakers to check:

  • If they’re possible to breach.
  • What kind of data can hackers get from smart speakers. 
  • How hackers can use these devices to commit crimes and fraud. 

The gadgets tested were the smart speakers, Amazon Echo and Google Home

And unfortunately, the study showed that… 

These popular IoT devices have security gaps in their system.

So, skilled hackers can easily access these speakers’ stored information. And that includes the following:

  • Email address of the user. 
  • Location of the smart speaker. 
  • Current activities of the device, including which songs are being played. 

See, these pieces of information on their own may seem harmless.

But hackers can start various schemes if they have this data. 

For example… 

A hacker could send a phishing email to the smart speaker’s user. 

And by using the target’s musical preferences…

Make the email seem like an official letter from music apps like Spotify.

Worst case scenario… 

A criminal could also access the smart cameras connected to the speaker hacked. 

And monitor their targeted IoT user using the cams’ real-time video footage. 

Similar to what happened in this event: 

Editor’s pick: Are Smart Homes Safe? 7 Things You Should Know

#3: Lack of updates 

Hackers are constantly finding new ways to breach IoT devices. 

So, to protect their gadgets from the most recent types of cyberattacks… 

IoT companies must also release regular updates. 

But here’s the bad news:

Some smart companies rarely release new patches for their devices or apps.

As a result, the protection of their products or services is way weaker than it should be. 

Take this Camera Blocker & Guard Android app, for example. 

It’s an application that’s supposed to protect the user’s phone from hackers. 

However, it hasn’t been updated since October 2020. 

This, ironically, means that it’s highly prone to hacking due to its outdated security patches. 

But unfortunately, many people still install this app. 

Hence, they’re still leaving their devices vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

Now, the lack of IoT security support doesn’t just end here. 

Because most smart brands also have a policy that states…

They’ll only update their devices for a limited time (usually less than 5 years). 

For example… 

The Alexa Echo devices won’t receive new updates after 2025.

So from a security perspective…

It’ll be best to avoid using your current Echo speakers after this period. 

Because it’s much easier to hack IoT devices if they’re outdated. 

#4: Insufficient privacy protection 

With IoT devices around, your privacy will always be at risk.

Because smart companies can legally collect your data from your smart gadgets. 

Let me use Google Assistant as an example. 

See, this AI is 1 of the most popular additions to an IoT system. 

However, it’s not exactly the best at protecting your privacy. 

Because Google Assistant records your voice whenever you wake it up. 

“But it’ll only store my voice commands, right?”

Well, if this AI is always accurate, that would be the case. 

But based on a study made by the Northeastern University and Imperial College London…

Smart speakers, including Google Home, can accidentally get activated up to 19 times a day.

And this happens whenever you say a phrase that sounds similar to your AI’s wake-up call. 

That means apart from your voice commands…

Your voice assistant also stores your regular day-to-day private dialogues. 

Now, of course…

There are ways to prevent smart devices from breaching your privacy.

For example, Google Assistant allows you to:

  • Review everything it has recorded.
  • Automatically delete your data after a certain period. 
  • Prevent your smart speaker from recording any data. 

However, accessing these features requires extra work.

And those who aren’t too tech-savvy might not know how to. 

Hence, many IoT users simply leave their data vulnerable.

You might also want to know: Can IoT Work Without The Internet? Why & How…

#5: Insecure default settings 

Most gadgets’ default settings prioritize accessibility over your security.

So, unfortunately, they leave your devices vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

For example, many IoT systems allow you to enable 2-factor authentication (2FA). 

Which protects your accounts from being easily controlled by strangers. 

Because with 2FA…

Whenever your credentials are used to sign in with an unfamiliar device, you’ll be notified through:

  • Call.
  • Email. 
  • SMS texts. 

And unless you verify the login attempt, the new gadget won’t be able to access your account. 

See, this feature is extremely helpful in securing your IoT gadgets.

But unfortunately, for IoT systems like Google Home…

The 2-factor authentication option is OFF by default. 

So, most people don’t even bother to set this security feature up. Leaving their IoT devices vulnerable to being accessed by hackers.