Out of all the connected devices in the home – lights, TVs, plugs, digital assistants, and even surveillance cameras – the humble game console is the most secure device of all of them, according to cybersecurity firm Avast.
Results from Avast's own software WiFi Inspector found that almost 36% of printers in Australian homes were at risk of cyber attacks because they rarely go through security updates, but only 0.5% of game consoles were affected by the same issue.
It's a significant finding: Game consoles and games are now relying more on the internet and online connections for gameplay – not only for playing with other people, but also for buying additional value packs, game demos, downloadable content, and online chat.
“Nowadays most game consoles are connected to the Internet as users want to play online, and that allows them to get updated automatically, without users needing to consider updating or patching their device manually. Therefore, most game consoles are in a state where they are always running the latest software, are fully updated and not exposed to vulnerabilities,” says Avast security evangelist Luis Corrons.
Corrons also says that game consoles are essentially closes systems that can only run programs that have been pre-approved by the vendor (for example, Xbox or Sony).
“Their business model relies on that, since they earn money for every game that is sold no matter who the developer might be. Therefore, these vendors take security very seriously, so as to avoid running unauthorised code.”
That's in stark contrast to home printers, which are typically connected to the home network – and to the internet.
Avast believes that most people don't pay attention to printer security – instead they only see printers as what they are – a means to print documents. Since this action is performed from their PC or laptop, there is very little direct interaction with the printer, which generally stays ‘out of sight, out of mind' so long as it is working properly.
Updates to a printer and other networked device such as Network Attached Storage (NAS) or security cameras generally need to be performed from a computer. Additionally, those devices aren't usually configured for automatic updates.
“We know that when an update relies on the final user, it often won't happen. Also, computers are the most targeted devices, and most of the attacks that we see on printers will come from a compromised computer,” says Corrons.
According to Avast, the most common connected devices include media boxes, printers, tablets, TVs, and game consoles.