Last month, a hacker took control of a baby monitor and camera, terrifying a child's parents by shouting profanities at the child and then signing off after calling the father a '"moron."
If you search online with the search engine Shodan -- which has been labelled the hacker's Google -- you can find thousands of homes equipped with the same IP baby monitor worldwide. Although a fix for the monitor has been released, until a company takes this step, the search engine can be used to find connected products with security vulnerabilities -- making users sitting ducks for cyberattacks.
Shodan is an Internet search engine which hunts down devices including cars, heart monitors, heating control systems, power plant controls and traffic lights -- many of which are programmed to answer IP queries.
The creator of Shodan, John Matherly, originally believed the engine would be used by network firms to scan the world for their products. However, the device-crawling engine is now used by law enforcement, academics and hackers to scout out devices which are connected to the web.
"I don't consider my search engine scary. It's scary that there are power plants connected to the Internet."
A recent report suggested that by 2020, 90 percent of cars alone will be connected to the Internet. Ericsson believes that 50 billion devices will be part of the "Internet of Things" by 2020. Shodan currently indexes 1.5 billion devices.
Considering how easily breached so many security systems are (anyone remember the zombie hoax broadcast?), the Shodan founder has every right to consider this a scary thought. Once we begin to connect core services in the power grid to the web, we have to make sure our security can defend against the misuse of tools like this search engine.
Last year, an anonymous user took control of over 400,000 Internet-connected devices by using Shodan.
Image credit: Shodan