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

Mayor wants to close two Brussels bars where alleged sexual assaults took place
Ixelles' Mayor Christos Doulkeridis (Ecolo) said that he’d like to close the two bars that employed a man accused of raping multiple patrons, ...
‘Untenable’: Mayor says situation at Brussels North station is out of control
The situation at Brussels North Station is no longer tenable, Schaerbeek's mayor Cécile Jodogne (Défi) says. Drug dealing, homelessness, ...
Suicide second-leading cause of death among European youth
Suicide is the number two killer among young people living in Europe, a recent Unicef report on the state of their mental health found. The ...
‘Too little, too late’: Brussels mayors criticise CST implementation
After a two week delay, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will become mandatory in several situations in Brussels from today (Friday). Some mayors blame a ...
Sciensano expert warns of rising Covid-19 cases this winter
The return of colder weather and the relaxing of health measures are giving rise to new Covid-19 contaminations and hospitalisations around Belgium, ...
Hospital food is making you sick, Belgian study shows
Eating hospital meals results in a measurable decline in health, according to a report from the Flemish television network VTM, which paints a ...
Belgium in Brief: Supply Issues
There are few things more jarring than walking into a store and finding that the shelves are empty, be that partially or otherwise. One thing ...
Stolen Magritte painting on display for first time in ten years
Surrealist painter René Magritte's work "Olympia", which made headlines across the world when it was stolen from a museum in Belgium in 2009, will be ...
Brussels airport pilots ’15 minute’ PCR test
Brussels Airport has announced that it will soon begin a trial of an ultra-fast PCR test able to detect Covid-19 in 15 minutes, a far faster ...
Over 1,000 demonstrators march in Brussels following sexual assault allegations
Around 1,300 people gathered in Ixelles on Thursday night to march against sexual violence, according to reporting from Bruzz. The march was ...
Covid Safe Ticket mandatory in Brussels, but no fines yet
The Brussels-Capital Region will expand the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) from today (Friday), but it will take a few days before rule-breakers ...
Belgium hosts ‘farewell party’ for Merkel today
Angela Merkel will be in Belgium on Friday for an official visit as a symbolic "farewell" before leaving her position as German Chancellor after 16 ...