Booby-trapped smart chargers could lead to smart car hacks

2021 will mark a tipping point when consumers will begin to fully-understand and revolt against the privacy concerns associated with smart and connected devices, says WatchGuard Technologies. Security analysts at WatchGuard believe that users will start to push back against vendors of IoT devices that collect personal data and will pressure governments to regulate the capabilities of these devices to protect their privacy. 

 The last few years have seen a rapid increase in the use of digital assistances such as Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, along with smart home systems to automatically control lights, room temperatures and access, while wearable devices track and sense critical health parameters. Behind the scenes, machine learning algorithms harness and correlate data to document user activities, behaviours, connections and interests. 

“While smart and connected device technologies deliver real benefits, society is starting to realise that giving corporations too much insight into our lives is not healthy,” says Corey Nachreiner, CTO at WatchGuard.

“That’s why we predict that users will finally make vendors take privacy for home and consumer IoT devices more seriously in 2021. Expect to see the market under greater scrutiny to be more transparent about the collection and protection of personal data, and government representatives under pressure to legislate.” 

In its annual look ahead to the next 12 months, WatchGuard’s Threat Lab also sees more smart devices being targeted by hackers. In particular, it predicts an increase in smart car attacks and believes that one potential weak spot is the smart charger. Smart car charging cables have a data component that helps them manage charging safety. Researchers and hackers have already proven they can create ‘booby-trapped’ mobile chargers, so it is highly likely that similar vulnerabilities in smart car charging components could allow them to prevent the powering and use of a car, for example. An attack like this could even result in car ransomware that prevents a car from charging until payment is made.

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