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One-third of connected homes in Australia at risk of cyber attack

Mon 1 Apr 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Avast announced that two out of five digital households worldwide are vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

The Avast Smart Home Report 2019 contains insights from over 16 million smart home networks, revealing that 40.3 per cent of homes worldwide (47.1% in Australia) have more than five smart devices connected and 40.8 per cent (33.4% in Australia) of these contain at least one vulnerable connected device.

The report illustrates that just one connected device can compromise the security of the whole home network.

Avast consumer president Ondrej Vlcek says, “People use their smart TV to watch their favourite Netflix series or connect their baby monitor to their home network. However, often they don’t know how to maintain the security of that device.

“It only takes one weak device to let in a bad hacker and once they are on the network, they can access other devices and the personal data they stream or store, including live videos and voice recordings. Simple security steps will significantly improve the integrity of digital homes.”

“For example, the setting of strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication for all device access, and ensuring software patches and firmware updates are applied when available.”

Weak credentials and out of date software

The majority (69.2%) of vulnerable devices in households worldwide (55.4% in Australia) were discovered to be vulnerable due to having weak credentials, such as simple passwords or the use of one-factor authentication. 

A further 31.8 per cent of these devices worldwide (45.1% in Australia) were vulnerable due to not being patched.

Avast also scanned 11 million routers worldwide and found that over half (59.7%) worldwide either have weak credentials or software vulnerabilities. 

Out-of-date software is often the weakest link in the security chain, making it an easy gateway for cybercriminals looking to access other connected devices.

The most vulnerable devices

Based on a scan of 117,773 Australian home networks, the research found that the top seven most vulnerable devices in Australia were:

  • Printers 35.8%
  • Network nodes 19.7%
  • NAS 19.4%
  • Security cameras 11%
  • Media boxes 8.5%
  • TVs 3.2%
  • Gaming consoles 0.5%

Printers were found to be the most prevalent vulnerable device worldwide, featuring in the top three list in every single country scanned and topping the list in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan. 

Media streaming boxes (e.g. set-top boxes, Chromecasts, TiVos) have entered the top five, and are incidentally the third most prevalent IoT device found in digital homes, after TVs and printers.

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