Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Prague — Avast, the company behind the leading antivirus software, has warned against attacks on home appliances connected to the internet, calling hackers targeting home routers a major threat to consumers.

"It’s a trivial thing to do and there’s nothing the user can do to fix it other than to throw the router away and put in a new router," Avast CE Vincent Steckler told reporters.

Avast chief technology officer Ondrej Vlcek said an increasing number of people were using internet-enabled appliances, which he described as "a total nightmare when it comes to security". Vulnerable appliances include televisions, audio systems and coffee machines, said the Prague-based company.

In February, London police arrested a Briton suspected of staging a cyberattack on household routers run by Deutsche Telekom in November 2016, which knocked about 1-million German households offline.

Steckler said his firm had hacked into a router at a recent show in the US to demonstrate the harm such attacks can do. Avast changed the router’s firmware, took control of a television and made it play a Barack Obama speech on repeat.

Steckler said the hacker could then hold the television for ransom. "I know most people, especially Americans, care much more about their TV than they do about their data. They’d probably be much more willing to pay ransom for it."


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