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Smart outlets may be making life easier for everyone — including hackers

Smart devices are on the rise, with everything from refrigerators to doorbells being designed to smartly sync and make life easier. Smart outlets are one of these new devices that are becoming increasingly popular.

They allow users to program the plugs to power on things like lights and coffee makers or monitor the usage from a particular outlet. However, upon an in-depth review of these smart outlets, BitDefender, a leading security product company, discovered that they can leave users vulnerable to hackers.

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These outlets feature hazards such as weak default passwords and poor or little encryption, and can even be susceptible to malware. Hackers can use them to access users’ devices or access their home network, in some cases reaching their email and personal information.

When users install one of these devices, they connect to the accompanying smartphone application. Information is then passed from the device to the servers. A big issue that BitDefender found was that the communication between the device and server is merely encoded rather than encrypted. Encoded information is secured using a key that is accessible publicly for anyone to decode and read. Encryption uses a secret key that isn’t readily accessible, thus better securing your information.

If the user chooses to enable email alerts they will have to provide their email credentials. If a hacker accesses the device after decoding the data, they can easily access the device as well as all the information contained within it. This includes the user’s email credentials.

If a hacker gains control over one of these smart outlets he can use it to gain control over other devices connected on the same network. Hackers can gain control over all the networked devices and use them to access email and personal information.

BitDefender made the company aware of the issues with its device’s security and the firm is already making efforts to better secure their smart outlets.