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Yes, hackers could attack your coffee maker to get your card details

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Think hackers attacking your coffee machine is science fiction? Think again.

Hackers are increasingly capitalising on vulnerabilities in connected home devices, including coffee makers, to gain access to personal information, a new report from digital security service McAfee has warned.

According to McAfee Labs’ 2019 predictions, cybercriminals are looking to use trusted devices to win access to and control of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

They do this by cracking weak passwords and even exploiting voice assistants, McAfee warned.

Wait – what are Internet of Things (IoT) devices?

IoT devices can include wearable devices, smart televisions and smart coffee makers.

Essentially, they’re devices that connect wirelessly to a network and can transmit data and take commands.

Okay, so how can hackers attack my coffee maker?

“Most IoT devices are being compromised by exploiting rudimentary vulnerabilities, such as easily guessable passwords and insecure default settings,” said Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist at McAfee.

“From building botnets, to stealing banking credentials, perpetrating click fraud, or threatening reputation damage unless a ransom is paid, money is the ultimate goal for criminals.”

Chief consumer security evangelist, Gary Davis, added that the sheer popularity of IoT devices has meant security companies have had to innovate to protect people from when they’re playing video games, to when they’re using an IoT device to make their morning latte.

Security researcher at McAfee, Sam Quinn began investigating the Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker after his research lab bought one.

He found that WeMo, which is a series of Belkin products allowing people to control home electronic remotely, has a vulnerability which grants hackers access to home networks.

“IOT devices are notoriously insecure and this claim can be backed up with a laundry list of examples,” Quinn said.

“With more devices “needing” to connect to the internet, the possibility of your WiFi enabled toaster getting hacked and tweeting out your credit card number is, amazingly, no longer a joke.”

The McAfee Mobile Threat report warned that hackers could also gain access to the stream or microphone of voice assistants to spy on its users.

“The volume of connected things flooding into homes and businesses coupled with weak to non-existent security controls from device manufacturers will make voice assistants and devices in general an attractive target,” Davis said.

Belkin and WeMo have since patched up the issue.

What can I do?

McAfee suggested Australians set up a second network that doesn’t grant or share access to the primary network and the connected devices.

Additionally, households should consider using a router with built-in security features and setting their devices to auto-updates so they always have the most up-to-date software.

“Cybercriminals are relentless, and as long as we continue to connect devices to the internet, they will continue to search for ways to exploit them,” said Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist.

“Cybersecurity researchers, businesses, and consumers working together to expose and eliminate these vulnerabilities keeps us all a step ahead of the bad guys.”

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