sb-eu logo
Story image

Princeton study wants to know if you have a smart home - or a spy home

16 Apr 2019

The IoT research team at Princeton University wants to know how your IoT devices send and receive data not only to each other, but also to any other third parties that may be involved.

A new study aims to analyse the risks of smart devices, from the humble smartphone right up to TVs, smart bulbs, plugs, sensors, smart speakers, Alexa, Google Home, Amazon Echo, security cameras, and any other internet-connected device used in the home.

Researchers want to explore risks in terms of their security and privacy, as well as bandwidth risk that could slow down the home’s internet connection.

The researchers are offering a tool called the IoT inspector, which is available to anyone who wants to participate in the research.

“Our goal is to measure and visualise these risks, both for research and for the user. To this end, we release IoT Inspector — an open-source software that you can download to inspect your home network and identify any privacy, security, and performance problems associated with your IoT devices,” the researchers state.

The IoT Inspector collects and transmits information about devices connected to the home network. The information includes:  Who the IoT device contacts through the internet and whether the contact is malicious or a known user tracker; how much data is exchanged; and how often data is exchanged.

That information is used to provide transparency into IoT devices, including whether those devices are sharing information with third parties; whether the devices have been hacked or used in DDoS attacks; and whether the devices are slowing down a home network.

The IoT Inspector doesn’t collect information about devices’ network activities, the contents of the communication, or personally identifiable information like network IP addresses, or names and emails.

Those who are keen to use IoT Inspector but want to exclude particular devices from monitoring must either power the devices down while setting up IoT Inspector, or specify the device’s exact MAC address. 

There may be a few side effects of running IoT Inspector on your device. Those effects include a drop in network performance (it may slow your network down); bugs and errors; and data breaches in the event that the university’s secure server is compromised. 

“An attacker will have access to this form and the collected data. However, the attacker will be unable to infer what IoT devices you own (because the attacker would not know the real-world identities behind each device), and what you do with your devices,” the researchers state.

IoT Inspector can only run on macOS at this stage – Windows and Linux users have to go on a Waitlist.  IoT Inspector can’t run on tablets or smartphones. If you’re interested, find out more by going to

Story image
Acronis announces new security endpoint solution
The solution is an integration of data protection and cybersecurity which provides customers with effective endpoint protection in a landscape where the pointlessness of perimeter security is becoming more pronounced.More
Story image
SMBs seeking service providers in face of rising cyber threats
SMBs are struggling with their cybersecurity solutions, with three quarters worried about being the target of a cyberattack in the next six months, and 91% considering using or switching to a new IT service provider if offered a better option.More
Story image
Zero trust is the way to secure the distributed workforce - Empired
Existing security solutions need to evolve to accommodate the new remote workforce.More
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jam – F-Secure talks APTs and the Lazarus Group
We spoke to F-Secure's director of detection and response, Matt Lawrence.More
Story image
Report: 151% increase in DDoS attacks compared to 2019
It comes as the security risk profile for organisations around the world increased in large part thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing greater reliance on cloud technology and thrusting digital laggards into quick and unsecured migrations.More
Story image
The guide to digital security in unstable times
An increase in vulnerability across different sectors has meant that 2020 has seen more than its fair share of cybersecurity incidents. One of the most effective ways to combat the perils of today’s cyber-threats is to gain a better knowledge of the threat vectors looming over the heads of organisations. More