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Is your smart coffee maker a national security risk?

From refrigerators to baby monitors, all kinds of smart devices are connected to the Internet of Things. 

But now, the federal government is worried that some connected devices could be a threat to national security.

A bi-partisan group of senators is sponsoring legislation to make the Internet of Things safer - devices with computer chips and sensors that are connected to the internet. 

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A bi-partisan group of senators is sponsoring legislation to make the Internet of Things safer - devices with computer chips and sensors that are connected to the internet. Pictured is LG Electronics' VP of Marketing presenting the LG InstaView Door-in-Door smart refrigerator

A bi-partisan group of senators is sponsoring legislation to make the Internet of Things safer - devices with computer chips and sensors that are connected to the internet. Pictured is LG Electronics' VP of Marketing presenting the LG InstaView Door-in-Door smart refrigerator

INTERNET OF THINGS

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a broad category that refers to devices or sensors that connect, communicate or transmit information over the web.

Products range from printers and baby monitors to thermostats and fridges.

Research firm Gartner predicts there will be 8.4 billion connected 'things' in use in 2017, up 31 per cent from 2016.

By 2020 this number could reach 20.4 billion, with smart TVs and digital set-top boxes the most popular consumer gadgets.

While they are convenient, such gadgets can present an easy targets for hackers.

They could also allow Internet Service Providers to spy on their users, according to a new Princeton study. 

Colorado's US Senator Cory Gardner, who is part of the bi-partisan group, told CBS Denver that these devices could be used as weapons of mass destruction. 

'The federal government orders billions of dollars worth of Internet of Things devices each and every year,' said Senator Gardner. 

'These are things that can be hacked into. 

'You can try to control systems, instruments with them. 

'You can certainly read what people are doing and maybe even eavesdrop on a conversation people are having.' 

Last year, for example, hackers shut down major websites such as Twitter and Spotify, and 500,000 items were potentially at risk of being activated without their owners' knowledge, with everything from baby monitors, DVR's, security cameras and other gadgets turned into cyber weapons. 

A recent study by researches at the University of Princeton found that details of your private habits within your own home could be sold on to advertisers by broadband providers. 

Information transmitted by products ranging from home security cameras, toasters and sleep monitors could be sold to third parties to help them target their products.

The researchers set up their own test smart home, fitted with seven Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

They hoped to examine the kind of data they might reveal about their users, by looking at metadata.

The federal government is worried that some connected devices could be a threat to national security. Pictured left is Griffin Technology's Bluetooth-enabled coffee maker, and right its toaster, which remembers your preferences

The federal government is worried that some connected devices could be a threat to national security. Pictured left is Griffin Technology's Bluetooth-enabled coffee maker, and right its toaster, which remembers your preferences

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