Kaspersky Lab, together with the research agency Opeepl, surveyed 7,740 household pet owners from 15 countries around the world* to find out how modern technologies affect pet safety. It turns out that every fifth pet owner uses some type of digital device to monitor or secure their domestic pet, and for 39% the use of such devices, ended up posing a risk to the pet or its owners.
At the end of May this year, Kaspersky Lab published a report on vulnerabilities in cat and dog trackers that allow attackers to manipulate information about the pet’s location or even steal its owner’s personal data. In the course of the latest study, it was found that the penetration of technologies and digital devices in the daily life of pets is not limited to just trackers. Among popular tools cited by respondents were web cameras for watching pets, smartphones and tablets with games designed for pets, digital toys, automatic feeders/water dispensers, and much more.
However, can there be any guarantee that a malfunctioning temperature controller will not overheat the fish, or an unresponsive auto-feeder will not leave a cat to starve? Such cases can be distressing for both the pets and those who take care of them. According to the survey, for example, half of the devices used for pets have access to the internet, which makes them vulnerable to cyberattacks. 14% of the surveyed pet owners reported that at least one of the digital devices they use for their pets had been hacked. Other problems reported by respondents included that the device stopped working or started malfunctioning. In the vast majority of cases, this resulted in a risk to the pet’s life (32%), its health (32%), its emotional well-being (23%), and even the emotional well-being of its owners (19%).
“Technology makes life easier not only for people, but also for our furry friends. With the help of technology, we can protect our pets, take care of them, and provide them with comfort. However, as is the case with any digital equipment, it’s important to remember the risks: any device can break down or be hacked by a cybercriminal. To avoid any unpleasant consequences, it’s important to implement simple security measures in advance, and have a backup plan in the event of device failure or infection. And, of course, you need to choose your digital device carefully, focusing on the most important thing – your pet’s safety,” saysDavid Emm, Principal Security Researcher from Kaspersky Lab.
The experts at Kaspersky Lab suggest the following simple rules to ensure the security of your household pets:
- If you are the proud owner of a smart home, set safety rules for the pets who live there, like this Kaspersky Lab employee has in his pet-friendly smart home (watch the video here);
- Pay close attention to the security issues of connected devices before purchasing. Information on discovered and patched vulnerabilities is usually available online and is often easy to find. It is likely that the device you are going to purchase has already been examined by security researchers and it should be possible to find out whether the issues found in the device have been patched. The best choice is to buy products that have already undergone several software updates;
- Before you start using your device, change the default password and set a new strong password;
- Do not allow access to your device from outside of your local network, unless you specifically need it to use your device;
- Disable all network services that don’t need to use your device;
- Regularly update your device’s firmware to the latest version (when such updates are available);
- To overcome the challenges of smart device cybersecurity, Kaspersky Lab has released a solution for smart homes and the internet of things – Kaspersky IoT Scanner. This free application for the Android platform scans the home Wi-Fi network, informing the user about devices connected to it and their level of security.
*Only those pet owners who used at least one smartphone were surveyed. The survey took place online in May-June 2018. Countries included: Singapore, Australia, India, Japan, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Turkey, UAE and Russia.