Bitcoin price surge can put smart homes at risk

Bitcoin price surge can put smart homes at risk
09/01/2018 , by , in News/Views

People’s homes could come under attack as a consequence of bitcoin’s price surge, a cyber security expert has warned.

“Cryptojacking” incidents, in which people’s devices are quietly hijacked and forced to mine digital currencies for other people, are on the rise. However, it’s not just regular computers that are at risk.

Other internet-connected devices around the home — seemingly harmless items such as smart thermostats, light bulbs and cameras — could be targeted, and victims might not even notice they’d been attacked until they saw their electricity bills inflate.

Cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of processing power, and therefore a lot of energy.

“Any device that is ‘smart’ now has the three key ingredients to provide the cyber bad guy with everything they need — internet access, power and processing,” Neil Haskins, the director of advisory services for EMEA at cyber security firm IOActive, told The Independent.

It’s fairly easy to work out if your computer is being used for mining, as it will slow down significantly and the battery will drain rapidly. “When could you detect this, at the end of the month when you get an electricity bill? Instead of £50 a month, it’s now £150,” says Haskins.

“And how do you diagnose the issue? You complain to the power company, they show you the usage and it’s correct. Your home really is consuming that power, even if it isn’t you doing it.”

If they manage to pull off such an attack successfully, they’re likely to try it again.

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