Breathless is the prose that's usually deployed to describe our Jetsons-like future of automated homes, smart appliances, and the IoT (Internet of things). When all of our gadgets and doohickeys are networked, online, and talking with one another, we'll enter a new golden age of efficiency and comfort ... or so we're told, principally by those selling said gadgets and doohickeys.
But there is a dark side: When your refrigerator, thermostat, or home security camera is plugged into a network, it becomes vulnerable to the same dangers that threaten any networked machine -- hackers, voyeurs, malware, breakdowns, botnets, and disruptions. After all, the universe tends toward entropy -- and bad guys will always be out there -- no matter how space-age our homes become.
In fact, smart home devices are potentially much more vulnerable to attacks and disruptions than traditional computing devices like PCs, laptops, phones, or tablets. The cyber security industry is only recently putting serious resources into the fight, giving hackers the upper hand. Who's going to patch and upgrade all this stuff? And privacy issues get really weird when companies are providing things like, yes, online toilets. We take a look at some real-world home automation horror stories that have made headlines recently.