Connected gadgets and smart TVs vulnerable to data theft, report warns

Consumers urged to remain vigilant as criminals exploit new technology

In the UK, the national trading standards body prevented almost £127 million in losses to consumers and businesses over the last year. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

In the UK, the national trading standards body prevented almost £127 million in losses to consumers and businesses over the last year. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

 

Irish consumers owning devices such as smart TVs and voice-activated home assistants could be vulnerable to criminal data theft, a report has warned.

The UK’s national trading standards (NTS) body urged consumers to “remain vigilant” as criminals exploit new trends and technology, warning that connected gadgets could leave households open to data theft.

It said the growing use of connected devices in the home could lead to new opportunities for criminals to reach consumers, with potential threats likely to include viruses and data-protection issues.

Consumers should also be alert to continued manipulation of online ticket sites, the risk of product safety issues with items bought via social media sites and the increasing sophistication of doorstep criminals who use websites, social media and fake reviews, the NTS annual report said.

In the UK, the NTS prevented almost £127 million in losses to consumers and businesses over the last year and secured a record 104 criminal convictions, the report’s figures show.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, it remains unclear what body regulates these products, with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) saying “these concerns fall outside the scope of the product safety legislation the CCPC enforces”. However, a spokesman for the Data Protection Commissioner said no data breaches connected with these devices had been reported to them.

Mike Andrews from the UK NTS ecrime team said: “Our increased connectivity is a good thing, the opportunities for digital breakthroughs in this space could improve our lives immensely, such as connected devices that transform how we monitor our own health to smart devices that improve how we prepare meals.

“This continued progress should not be halted, but as criminals are increasingly finding new methods to target consumers, steps will need to be taken to help protect people in their homes.” – (Additional reporting: PA)