The fresh problems of used smart devices

With IoT growing in popularity, people are starting to trade used connected devices. It’s potentially a huge market. But selling or buying a second hand device in the age of hyperconnectivity just isn’t the same as trading your great-grandfather’s old cuckoo clock.

For example, connected things might simply remain linked to their former owner even after being sold to someone else, wrote MediaPost citing Charles Henderson, global head of X-Force Red at IBM, who drew attention to the security issues involving second hand smart objects.

Long-term security “often overlooked or ignored

“The wide variety of home automation IoT devices today are designed primarily for convenience and functionality, with long-term security often overlooked or ignored completely,” said Henderson at the RSA computer security conference. “All the efforts are focused on that first owner,” he added, according to MediaPost. “It’s time we start looking at the entire lifecycle.”

In other words, it’s relatively easy to set up a smart device you bought new, but things aren’t as simple or straightforward when you get it used. Nobody teaches new owners of second hand devices to check whether they are still connected to their former owner. Henderson said he discovered that some of the remote authorizations for a connected car he had sold were never revoked.

Similarly, manufacturers do not go out of their way to warn consumers that they should terminate the connections they have set up before selling their smart devices. As MediaPost wrote, people can sell their houses without being aware they still have control over the smart lights or the smart thermostat from their phone.

Forgetting to cancel connections — or not knowing how to do it — isn’t the only problem when it comes to selling off your smart device. Many connected gadgets and appliances know a lot about you. Erasing that info can be difficult, as it’s the case with some smartphones.

One simple solution to make sure you are the only one who has control over the smart devices in your household is to use Bitdefender Box, our security hub for the connected home. Box connects to your wi-fi router and secures all the devices that are part of your home network, blocking any unauthorized login attempts.

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