FTC report to help businesses secure data-transmitting devices

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You probably have at least one of these items in your home: a baby monitor, a home security system, a video game console.

But did you ever stop to think it could be putting you and your family at risk?

Last April, an Ohio family’s nightmare came true when one of its baby monitors was hacked. The person on the other end screamed at an infant through the camera.

“About the time I saw it moving, I also heard a voice again start screaming at my daughter,” Heather Schreck said then.

How easily can devices be hacked? A local IT firm says it can happen more easily than you might think.

“That device is sending data, potentially to the Internet, to find out the trends on when you come home, when you go to sleep that can’t be stored locally on that device. It has to be stored somewhere else. It’s too much data,” explained Pacxa executive vice president Kelly J. Ueoka.

Devices like health and fitness monitors, cell phones, baby monitors, game consoles and home security devices are all prone to attack, and with 25 billion Internet-connected devices in use worldwide, security is not always top of mind.

So the Federal Trade Commission is stepping in. It recently released a report on the “Internet of Things,” which is meant to help guide businesses that make these devices on how to ensure their product isn’t compromised.

“With any emerging technology, there’s going to be risks and yes, the connected devices per person is going to grow exponentially,” Ueoka said.

While consumers have been urged to password-protect their device and to read the privacy policy before installing it, the report focuses on businesses, saying they need to do:

  • A better job at building security into devices at the outset rather than as an afterthought,
  • A better job at thoroughly testing a product’s security measures before launching it, and
  • Minimizing the data that the device collects.

Ueoka believes consumers and businesses need to work together to ensure these high tech devices are used only the way they’re intended.

“We need to take the proper precautions and the companies putting out these solutions need to make sure that it’s secure which I believe they will,” he said.

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