The worldwide web is about to become a lot more dangerous thanks to the Internet of Things, warns an award-winning online security expert.

Graham Cluley says increased connectivity poses a serious risk to a digital sector worth an estimated £118bn per year to the UK, as cars and even washing machines become smart devices.

The independent security analyst has worked in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, writing the first ever version of Dr Solomon’s Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, before moving on to senior roles at Sophos and McAfee.

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He joined the Infosecurity European Hall of Fame in 2011.

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During a talk at Unlocked – Manchester, an event organised by UKFast and Secarma, Cluley said: “The truth is you can’t trust anything these days. You can’t trust the internet. And the internet is on the brink of getting enormously bigger.

“in fact, it’s already getting bigger and it’s going to get way, way bigger still. It’s going to get bigger because of the Internet of Ghastly Things.”

He added: “What’s happening is everyone who’s got anything to sell you, they’re plugging the internet into it. They’re using as a feature, as a reason why you [would buy that product].

“But unfortunately security and privacy is not a high priority, and these devices will be coming into organisations.

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“There will be devices in organisations right now connected to the internet that you may be unaware of.

“A Dutch company has put wireless sensors on cows. They’re monitoring, and finding out every time a cow becomes sick or pregnant. Each cow is sending 200mb-worth of data every year.”

Cluley highlighted the case of manufacturing giant Miele, which recently announced its Internet-of-Things network-connected dishwasher was vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

The device, typically a model used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, could be exploited by an “unauthenticated attacker” to “access sensitive information to aide in subsequent attacks”.

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Essentially, the thing people need to little more than clean plates could be hacked by criminals.

Cluley added: “The Internet of Things is being compromised. It’s no longer computers that are being hijacked by the criminals, but Internet of Things devices are being used to bombard websites.

“And half of the problem is that so many people, on their routers, on their CCTV cameras and webcams, are using default passwords, which the hackers know and they’re able to get in and exploit them.”