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TheStreet Open House

Be Afraid! Hackers Can Control Your Car, TV and Home -- The Disruptors

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- If anything in your home communicates data over a network or to an outside source, it can be hacked.

That's the harsh reality online security companies such as Symantec (SYMC) and Houston-based Superior Solutions face and one device-centric security firm Mocana is preparing for in a post-PC world where everyone is wired and every device from a smartphone to the kitchen refrigerator is connected to a network. Even without hackers figuring out how to access every corner of a user's life, cybercrime is becoming a big industry.

A report released by Symantec earlier this month found that cybercrime cost victims $388 billion in time and money last year alone from 431 million people in 24 countries. That number is rising steadily; the 54% of online adults who were victims of computer virus or malware attacks this year is up from 51% last year. Attacks against mobile devices are soaring as well, with Kapersky Labs finding that 65% more smartphones, tablets and other devices were targeted for malware attacks last year than in 2009. A Mocana survey, meanwhile, found that 64% of professionals at companies including Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T), Intel (INTC), IBM (IBM) and Microsoft (MSFT) had an attack on a non-PC device requiring the attention of their IT staff. Another 54% said that attack disrupted the company's network, but 51% said their companies still didn't update security or create patches to protect information on devices.

With the researchers at Germany's University of Ulm discovering that Google Android devices not updated to the latest version of their operating system put calendar data, phone numbers, home addresses and email addresses at risk each time they connect to a network, personal smartphones and tablets are becoming prime targets for hackers. The hacking of Sony's (SNE) PlayStation Network back in April, the ensuing shutdown and the exposure of nearly 100 million users' information brought the hacking problem home without using PC, a tablet or even a smartphone to get in.

"If you look at every sector of the economy, it's consumer electronics, it's smart grid and smart energy infrastructure, it's health care and medical devices, it's industrial control, it's aerospace and defense, it's retail and it's transportation logistics," says Adrian Turner, chief executive of Mocana. "All of those markets have or will have connected devices."

We spoke with executives at Mocana and Superior Solutions and found that security flaws on the following items allow as much access for hackers as a lockless door would for a passing burglar:

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