Is your second-hand smart device spying on you?

Hackers reveal how easy it is to tap into second-hand smart devices – and what you should be doing to protect yourself

Is bagging a bargain with a second-hand smart device important to you? It may become less so when you discover just how easy it is for an experienced hacker to spy on you and your home via one of these gadgets.  

Turning to a team of ethical hackers for help, internet security company VpnMentor tested a smart assistant and camera, and have revealed that both were hackable – and can be manipulated to gain access to your home via a specially crafted SD card that is inserted into the device in a way that isn't obvious to an ordinary user. 

So, what should you do to safeguard yourself against unwelcome intruders, while still enjoying the benefits of smart home technology? According to vpnMentor, you should: 

  • Always research a product, and any existing security threats to it, before you buy.
  • Only buy your smart gadget from an officially certified source.
  • Be aware of any signs of physical intervention with the product.
  • Directly address the seller if you or someone else has identified any major misconfiguration.
  • Make sure your smart device is properly configured and regularly updated.
  • Keep your externally facing smart devices on a separate network.

Ariel Hochstadt, co-founder of vpnMentor, comments, 'If you are going to introduce smart technology into your home, it is important that you remain attentive to your devices to ensure that only those you trust have access. By following our set of simple rules you can ensure the best security practices have been met, saving you from becoming an easy target for crime.'

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

In 2018 Anna moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space and joined as Staff Writer. She has a longterm interest in space-making and the evolution of interior style. She can also be found looking for the latest innovations in sustainable homewares or buying yet more bedding.