The Enemy in Your Kitchen


Filed Under Latest News on Oct 26 

Imagine you have a secret weapon in your home. One that you don’t even think of as a weapon. A vital oh-so-common household appliance that may have been weaponized. And is being used to launch denial of service or other internet attacks on key nodes of the world wide web. Or is even collecting data on you. You know what it is?

Your fridge.

Or maybe your modem. Or maybe your webcam. Or your climate control system. Yes folks, the internet of things or IoT – as smart consumer devices are now called – are being easily hacked and marshalled towards rather un-benign ends by aggressive actors who wish to find devices that are easy to hijack. Like your fridge.

Imagine your fridge being used to launch a denial of service attack – or perhaps another more aggressive attack – on the local power grid. So far, the attacks have been aimed at bringing down websites, but this is just starting. More and more malicious attempts will surely follow.

Is this really necessary? Do you really need a smart fridge? Did anyone ask you personally if you had to have connectivity in just about every household appliance you can imagine? Did we they ask you if you’d like a world with tens of billions of smart devices? All inter-connected?

No they didn’t, although they can surely point to marketing studies. But that’s not really what gets people sooo excited about the internet of things. What has them breathing hard and heavy is the impact of all these smart (or smarter to be more precise) devices on supply chain management. That fridge that someone hacked is being wired (or chipped if you will) to send information all down the supply chain – from the manufacturing, to the shipping to the warehousing and retail stages. People in a control room somewhere will (do!) even know if your smart big fridge overheated somewhere between a plant in Asia and your kitchen.

That means there is no turning back. Too much money and intellectual capital have already been invested. And millennials surely don’t mind the cool new features that even a fridge can now have. It’s the future, and it means only one thing:

You can no longer trust your fridge. A device made overseas is being hijacked – often by actors based overseas – to disrupt internet processes that might affect your life. And no, you can’t even work at the plant manufacturing those fridges, because more often than not, they’re also overseas.

Apparently there are (and will increasingly be) ways to protect your consumer appliances. Can you imagine Norton IoT protection? It’s surely on it’s way. Sorry darling, I’m gonna be late to Joey’s party! I’ve got to update our fridge!
So, in a time when American’s trust in their institutions – whether banks or government departments or legislatures or courts or universities or security and intelligence agencies and on and on – is at all-time lows. In a time when one’s trust in one’s fellow citizens is at an all time low. In a time when political discourse is hyper-partisan and no longer even pretends to be objective. In these times, you now have a new potential enemy that you must view with caution, and even have a protocol – or a good firewall – in place to deal with possible disturbances: your fridge.