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Limited software updates put smart appliances at risk of security breaches

The UK-based consumer rights group, Which?, has warned that smart appliances may stop working prematurely due to a lack of software updates after just two years. It reached out to 119 brands and less than half responded but of those that did, many said they only offer two or three years' worth of updates before abandoning products. To be clear, these are products like washing machines, TVs, dishwashers, and so on – things you’d typically expect to last about a decade. To add insult to injury, these smart variants can cost hundreds of pounds more.

A Xiaomi TV

While losing feature updates after a couple of years may not seem too bad to customers, the lack of updates also includes security updates which means the appliances become susceptible to hackers. Which? says that brands also do not give guarantees about the longevity of product updates either in a lot of cases leaving customers in the dark about when they’ll need to upgrade.

Of the responses Which? got to its queries, LG said its dishwashers, smart TVs, and washing machines got two years of guaranteed updates, Sony updates TVs for two years, and Samsung updates TV for three years. HP said its smart printers are supported for three years even though the estimated lifetime of an inkjet printer is 13 years.

Not all of the brands suck at providing updates, though. Hisense said its smart TVs get ten years of updates while Miele supports dishwashers and washing machines for a decade too. As consumers learn which brands support their devices longer, it could force other companies to give longer support for their devices. Which? also suggested that the government should intervene in this area if brands don’t provide better support.

“It’s unfair for manufacturers to sell expensive products that should last for many years and then abandon them,” Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy said. “This means the product could lose the features that justified the hefty price tag and can potentially create a security risk or add to the electrical waste mountain if it has to be replaced.”

If you’re thinking about buying any smart appliances, Which? recommends that you check manufacturer update policies before buying. If you’re looking to save money by buying second-hand, Which? also urges you to make sure you’re not buying an appliance already out of support.

Source: Which?

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