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Increase in Smart Home Devices Adds New Hacking Risks

In a recent US survey conducted by Zogby Analytics for HSB, of the 81 percent of consumers who said they have a WiFi or other home data network, 38 percent had electronic devices other than personal computers, smartphones or tablets connected to the Internet1. The connected devices include smart televisions, music systems, thermostats, security cameras, door locks, alarms, lighting, home automation and other smart devices.


By 2018, nearly half of Canadian consumers will either own or say they plan to purchase connected home technologies2.


Although cyber attacks on non-computing home systems and smart appliances are so far relatively uncommon (10 percent of those responding were victims), the increase in connected devices is creating a new pathway for hackers and cyber thieves, the results showed.


“Cyber criminals are always looking for new targets,” said Timothy Zeilman, vice president and counsel for HSB. “And home devices like smart TVs and appliances are often designed for easy use and not security. Compounding the problem, many consumers don’t take even basic measures such as changing default passwords and updating security software.”


The most common type of non-physical damage experienced through attacks on home devices, appliances and systems were viruses or other unwanted software on their systems (59 percent) and damage to software or operating systems (45 percent).
Damage to home devices in a cyber-attack usually results in a financial loss, the survey showed, with 87 percent of the victims spending money to respond. The losses were often substantial — 42 percent of the victims in the survey spent between $1,000 and $5,000.


The problem will likely get worse as the number of connected home devices increases, Zeilman said. In response, new cyber insurance coverages are becoming available for consumers. Once offered only to businesses, cyber insurance for individuals can pay for expenses related to cyber attacks on home computers, home systems, and appliances and other connected devices, cyber extortion, data breach and online fraud.


For more information about Home Cyber coverage, contact your BI&I reinsurance representative



1Zogby Analytics for The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB)
2Nielsen’s Connected Home Report, 2016


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