Watch CBSN Live

"Smart home" owners not always so smart about security

"Smart" toys, appliances keep getting hacked 01:33

They are in millions of homes all over the country -- high-tech gadgets, toys and appliances that entertain us and make life easier. But these popular "smart home" devices have hidden risks that could make you and your family easy targets for hackers.

Everything from baby monitors and security systems to toys and TVs, even refrigerators with cameras built right into their doors can be connected to the Internet, adding convenience but also risk. They are part of an exploding category of connected devices known as the "Internet of Things."

Tod Beardsley, a tech security researcher at Rapid7, told CBS News that we can expect to see a lot more of them in the future -- as many as "20 billion of these devices by 2020."

The potential danger is that, without proper security measures, they can easily give hackers access to your home network, Beardsley said.

For instance, last April, one New York City couple was horrified to hear a man talking to their 3-year-old through a Web-connected baby monitor.

The easiest, most common entry point for such hackers is through a home's Internet router. Bardsley stressed that changing the router's default password is crucial for protecting against hackers.

"You don't have to be a particularly sophisticated attacker to guess 'password' is the password," he said.

It's also important to create unique passwords for each household device and change them often.

This is crucial because once one device is compromised, it gives hackers the ability to learn a lot about an individual.

Bardsley said information at risk could include a person's first and last names, zip code, and date of birth. He said hackers could put together a data set they could "either use directly for crime" or sell online.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue