Hacker delivers households Christmas cards via printer (Eng)

The Hague, 13 December 2022 – In 2021, nearly 2.5 million Dutch people were victims of online crime.* Using poorly secured smart devices, hackers can penetrate your home network. Over 90% of Dutch households have one or more smart devices such as a smart TV or smart thermostat but only half say they regularly update their smart devices. This puts them at risk of being hacked. To make Dutch people aware of this, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate is running the ‘Do your updates’ campaign. As part of the campaign, an ethical hacker tried to get into a number of households’ home networks. Working with their permission, they proceeded to use their wireless printers to print the sort fo Christmas card you don’t want to receive.  

Hackers only need one poorly secured device to get inside your home, and as a result access your personal data. Ethical hacker Dirk-Jan Bartels of Resillion collaborated on the campaign. He aimed to find and report possible security flaws: “Because smart devices are connected to your Wi-Fi network, hackers can access all your personal data through your smart devices. By updating your devices, you ensure that the latest security is on them. That way, you make it much harder for criminal hackers.”  

Christmas cards – the kind you don’t want to receive 

De ongewenste kerstkaart

Bartels went on the road across the Netherlands and tried to enter households’ networks through inadequately secured devices. Beforehand, households gave permission for the hacker to test whether their network and devices were secure enough. If he managed to break in and to their surprise, printed a Christmas card via the wireless printer with tips to improve their digital security. “It was good to make people aware of possible security risks in this playful way,” Bartels said. ”You often read in the news about companies being hacked, but something like this can happen to you privately too. At the households we hacked were surprised how easily we were able to do so. Fortunately, there were also those who had done all their updates and where it was therefore not possible to break into their network and print the Christmas card. Whether it’s a business or household, it’s very important to do your updates regularly.”  

Updates not always automatic  

Some devices update automatically. But not all. Never presume this to be the case. Also, you don’t always get a notification when an update is ready. Therefore, it is important to regularly check your smart devices for new updates yourself. For most devices, you do this in the settings in the corresponding app. Updating often fixes digital vulnerabilities in addition to new features, which you can easily see and recognise. This will keep your smart devices safe and protect your network from cyber criminals.  

Printers, home appliances and switches are updated the least  

Is your device connected to the internet? Then your device is smart. And it is wise to perform updates. Yet some smart devices are updated less frequently. For example, only 44% of Dutch people update their wireless printer. Household appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines (31%) and remote-controlled switches (27%) are the least updated.  

Prevent a hack, do the Update Check  

Want more information and tips? Then go to doejeupdates.nl and do the Update Check. List your smart devices by room. Then the Update Check tells you step by step how to update any smart device, such as your smart doorbell to thermostat.  

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