US intelligence chief James Clapper acknowledged in a testimony submitted to the Senate on Tuesday that spy agencies could use the Internet of Things, and in particular smart home devices, to enhance their surveillance capabilities. Besides providing an extra vector for surveillance, many Internet of Things device also suffer from poor security, making them easy to hack.
“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper said.
Clapper did not specifically name any intelligence agency as involved in household-device surveillance. But security experts examining the internet of things take as a given that the US and other surveillance services will intercept the signals the newly networked devices emit, much as they do with those from cellphones. Amateurs are already interested in easily compromised hardware; computer programmer John Matherly’s search engine Shodan indexes thousands of completely unsecured web-connected devices.