Thermostat Security: Future HVAC Systems At Risk?

Your toaster and your thermostat could be someday vulnerable.

Thermostats and Smart HVAC Systems May Someday Be Vulnerable to Cyber Criminals

At the recent online security convention Def Con in Las Vegas, experts announced they had successfully hacked a residential thermostat. It was part of a demonstration of the way nefarious “ransomware” can work against a household device connected to the Internet. Once implemented, a cyber criminal would be able to control your thermostat (or your Internet-connected toaster or coffeemaker) from their laptop. Then they could disable your preferred settings, turning off your air conditioning or heat, for example, until you paid a ransom of a few hundred dollars to release it. No word on what they might do to your toast or coffee!

Smart Air Conditioning Systems Mean Greater Convenience

The Las Vegas presentation underlined what pundits have been saying for years about the “Internet of Things,” the phrase many use to describe the new generation of electronic devices that feature controls one can access online or by an app on their smartphone. Indeed, these products are very convenient. A “smart” HVAC system accessible online or by smartphone app would allow you to set the thermostat well before you arrive home, ensuring your comfort the minute you step in the door. What’s not to like?

From Lagos to La Canada, Cyber Criminals Could Hack Your HVAC

It’s all good unless a stranger gets ahold of your password. If they do, you could be in big trouble. By definition, online access to an air conditioning system (or any household device) also would mean there would be a risk of the system being hacked by cyber criminals worldwide. One could imagine the home of the future essentially taken hostage by an online hacker, with the toast set to “burn”, the air conditioning disabled, and the cyber-controlled Roomba running out of control in the family room until the homeowner was able to send a few hundred dollars to a hacker in Nigeria.

But Relax, Your Air Conditioning Is Safe…For Now

Luckily, we seem to be safe for now, as the presenters admitted. In 2016, such hacks would be extremely unlikely, given the relative difficulty of doing so using current technologies. But as these remote controlled systems become more popular, cyber crime continues to proliferate. Without a doubt, the household or business of the future using these technologies will be forced to take steps to prevent such occurrences, not to mention a ruined breakfast.

Don’t worry about cyber criminals…or hot weather. Air-Tro has you covered. We provide enduring, high quality HVAC systems along with repair and maintenance programs to our customers throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Call us today at (626)357-3535 to schedule your consultation.