Consumer warning: ‘Smart’ household appliances can be a security risk
Share article:
Share article:

Consumer warning: ‘Smart’ household appliances can be a security risk

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

Consumer organisation Test Achats and the university of Leuven have warned that ‘smart’ household appliances may present a security risk.

Smart devices are very much present in modern homes: smartphones, baby monitors, garage door remotes, automatic vacuum cleaners etc.

Test Achats undertook testing of 16 smart devices for use in the home, together with three other consumer protection organisations in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and discovered 54 different security faults, some of them serious.

The organisations point out that the situation is no better now than when a similar test was carried out in 2018.

Of particular concern are low-price appliances from unfamiliar brands, which are commonly sold on internet marketplaces including AllExpress and Amazon.

Among the problems discovered: a lack of encrypted communication, poor programming and weak default passwords.

Not all of the problems are with cheap products. The TP-Link Archer AX73 wifi router is an expensive product (€148 on bol.com), but the tests found that it has a default password that would take hackers seconds to crack, leaving the owner’s network wide open.

Other named examples are the 360Eyes baby monitor, which can be taken over by anyone who knows the email address of the user. And the smart door lock Raykube can also be hacked in seconds, leaving an empty home unprotected.

Test Achats is now pushing for tougher security standards for smart devices in the EU.

Together with consumer organizations in our partner countries, we are urging European policy makers to ensure that the cybersecurity legislation currently under preparation at European level addresses identified shortcomings in the security of smart devices,” said spokesperson Simon November.

“Furthermore, new binding rules for manufacturers should be developed in additional EU legislation.”

Meanwhile, KULeuven has been carrying out research of its own.

A smart vacuum cleaner sometimes has different cameras that are needed to map your living room. A powerful processor is present for all that computing power. Now hackers can break into your vacuum cleaner and watch it while it’s running,” said doctoral researcher Lennert Wouters. “Even more, they can map your living room and resell that data. The devices are as leaky as a sieve.”

His advice is simple: “Choose established brands as much as possible, although that is not always a guarantee,” he said.

Latest news

Non-urgent care once again postponed in some hospitals
As the worsening coronavirus situation in Belgium is starting to take its toll on hospitals, it has been confirmed non-urgent care will once again be ...
Brussels Airport warns autumn holidaymakers to arrive early
Passengers leaving from Brussels Airport this autumn have been advised to factor in extra time to account for longer than normal check-in times and ...
27,000 Belgian taxpayers to pay more after incorrect tax break
About 27,000 taxpayers who wrongly received a tax reduction in the last three years due to an error by the tax administration will have to pay what ...
Wallonia launches first major survey for cyclist satisfaction
Following in the footsteps of France and Flanders, the Wallonia Region of Belgium is launching its first major satisfaction survey on municipal ...
After 5 rescues in 2 days, hundreds of migrants take shelter in Italy
After five rescues in less than two days, almost 400 migrants aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean, operated by ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
Strong warnings issued ahead of climate change summit
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...