Two elements combined to make this article happen. The first was that October was Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Second, smack-dab in the middle of the month, the first trailer for the new Scream movie dropped. It contained a scene that had us a little concerned. See if you can spot it.
Obviously, we’re talking about the smart locks scene. All your locks in your home unlock, so you whip out your smartphone and re-lock them, only to see them all unlock again. The implication here is that Mr. Scary Killer person has hacked into their victim’s smart home account and can control all the devices throughout the home. Yikes.
As someone who doesn’t carry keys to his house because of all the smart locks, I was getting a little nervous. So I decided to talk to someone about it. I reached out to John Shier, senior security adviser at Sophos to talk about it. He gave me some good news and some bad news. I’ll start with the bad news.
Yes, this is possible. The good news is, it’s rather hard to do and the better news is, the chances of this happening to you are infinitesimal unless of course you also have someone who really wants to do you harm. But the honest truth is, there’s a good chance that enough of your data is out there that could make something like this possible.
There are two things that combine to make this possible: Social engineering and data breaches. Separately, either of these can get an attacker enough information to hack your smart home. Together, it becomes even more possible. But you have to understand, when we say this is possible, we have to quickly caveat it by saying that it’s not very likely.
If you accept the idea of the movie that there’s a lot of planning and premeditation there, then this becomes a lot easier, which is to say it’s more plausible. The fact is, data breaches happen frequently and people often re-use email addresses and passwords for multiple services. Your password exposed from XYZ company (we’re not data-breach shaming here) could well be the same username and password that you use for your smart locks. Even if the password is different, the email address is a key piece of information toward other ways to hack your way…