10 Nightmare Scenarios From the Internet of Things

Patches? We Don't Have No Stinking Patches
Employee Robert Kodweis from company Arrayent talks about the Internet of Things next to a refrigerator at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Arrayent makes an IoT platform. © Britta Pedersen/dpa/Corbis

You wake up in the morning, not because your alarm is going off, but because someone is spamming your alarm clock with ads for a new energy drink. This makes you thirsty, so you go to the fridge to get a sip of something cool, only to find an ad on the panel for a weight-loss pill. You try to interact with the screen, but it has locked up. Suddenly, you realize why you are so thirsty: The air conditioner has shut itself off.

You walk to your neighbors' house to borrow their phone (yours is full of spam) and begin calling your "smart" device companies for help. But the company that made the refrigerator passes you off to the factory that made the user interface, which pawns you off onto the chipmaker, who says it's a problem with the operating system -- which is so widespread and well-known to hackers that there's nothing you can do. A few grudgingly admit that it's unfortunate that your devices did not have firewalls or antivirus (there's no room), but they blame you for not changing the passwords.

You did know there were factory default passwords, right?

The hackers sure did, and they've used them not only to spam you ads, but to find a backdoor into your wireless network and e-mail your friends and co-workers versions of the virus. They've also contacted all the devices your appliances talk to. Enjoy your house full of expensive bricks.