AFP

LAS VEGAS-The hackers who got into your computer or smartphone are now taking aim at the Internet of Things.

The connected toothbrush, sports gear with embedded sensors and smart refrigerators are just a few of the objects showcasing innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show. They are all impressive but “they’re all breachable” said Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Security Response, while attending the huge high-tech trade show.

“If the object is connected to the Internet, you will find it, and if it has an OS (operating system) you can hack it,” he told AFP at the Las Vegas expo. Haley said the pace of innovation could outstrip the security protecting the devices. “As we start to bring all this new stuff in our houses, we’re going have to take some responsibility,” he said. The devices displayed the CES show included an array of gear from a connected basketball to baby clothing which monitors an infant’s breathing and positioning.

And security researchers have shown the possibility, at least in theory, of hacking into automobile electronics or medical devices like pacemakers. Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at the firm Bitdefender, said the threat remains mostly theoretical for now.

“I don’t think the bad guys have understood the benefits for them of making use of such things yet,” he said. But Cosoi said some new hack in inevitable which could cause people to take notice.

“We’re definitely going to see something happening this year - we might see the first collateral victim, a person being physically harmed,” he added. The introduction of Internet-enabled door locks at CES poses the obvious question of whether the devices can be compromised by hackers.

Alex Colcernian, director of product development at Unikey, which powers Kwikset remote-control locks, said the technology includes “military grade encryption” to stay secure. Leo Herlin of French-based Medissimo, which introduced a smart pill box, said the system is “extremely secure” to prevent unwanted intrusions.

One factor that mitigates the risk is that with billions of objects likely to be connected, the value to hackers could be limited in most cases: would a hacker penetrate a refrigerator to steal someone’s grocery list? “You’ve got to be smart consumers when you’re using a smart device,” said Randy Overton.