Police advise public to secure smart home devices amid cyber attacks around the world

Users can rely on the Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore to make decisions. PHOTO: AZTECH

SINGAPORE - The police have advised the public to secure smart home devices like Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, smart televisions and digital locks, as cyber crime and hacking proliferate around the world.

In a public advisory on Monday (Jan 25), the police warned that cyber criminals could hack into and compromise smart home devices.

This comes as cyber attacks have continued to increase worldwide during the pandemic, and as smart home devices are expected to surge in popularity.

The police highlighted IP cameras as a category of items that should be secure, noting that cameras can be accessible by third parties if default passwords are not changed and adequately secured.

"This can result in a loss of privacy such as having IP camera video footage being leaked online," said the police.

It was reported last October that hacked footage from home IP cameras here had been uploaded on pornographic websites.

Other smart home devices like digital locks, smart home hubs and smart TVs "may also have inherent vulnerabilities". And if such devices are compromised, it could result in the loss of privacy, data breach of personal or financial information, or even monetary losses when cyber criminals use the personal information to perform unauthorised transactions, said the police.

To fend against such illicit activities, the police advised people to secure their Wi-Fi networks as these are the "doorway" to smart devices.

Wi-Fi users could create a guest network under their router to use with their smart devices, as this could prevent hackers from accessing other important devices on the main network, like smartphones or laptops that contain even more private information, said the police.

Users should also enable two-factor authentication if such a feature is available, and use strong and unique passwords, as default passwords can be easily found online.

The police also said users should patch and update their devices regularly, and disable any features in smart devices that are not used to block potential entry points. For example, if users do not use voice control, they should block this feature as an active microphone, when compromised, could be used to pry into conversations, said the police.

They encouraged users to identify products with better cyber-security provisions, and said users can rely on the Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore to make decisions.

The scheme, which rates smart devices according to their cyber-security levels, has been extended to cover all consumer Internet of Things devices.

"With more secure products coming onto the market in time to come, consumers will be able to look out for these products when they are making a purchase decision," said the police.

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