The Spy Who Can’t Clean Shag Carpet

The Spy Who Can’t Clean Shag Carpet

With the fast-paced lifestyle of many Americans today – particularly millennials – it comes as no surprise that more and more people are interested in robotic vacuum cleaners, despite them being generally less powerful and more expensive than their traditional counterparts. As more companies introduce their own products, consumers are finding it easier to clean up things like pet hair on hard floors and maintain cleaner homes. Others are growing worried about some of the advertised features, as well as some unadvertised ones.

Lay of the Land

One particularly noteworthy feature in newer robotic vacuums is the ability to map the layout of a home, remembering the most efficient cleaning paths and threats to avoid. Using laser mapping, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected – produced by California-based Neato Robotics, a subsidiary of Vorwerk (Germany) – can avoid threats like stairs and chair legs, determine what type of surface it is cleaning, and calculate the most direct and thorough path to clean, even in a pitch black room. Linked to a smartphone, the consumer can monitor everything the robot does.

These features are particularly useful for optimizing the operation of the vacuum, but they present a potential threat for security-minded consumers.

Security Breach

A competing product from Chinese manufacturer Diqee highlights the risk. A team of researchers at Positive Technologies – a global provider of enterprise security solutions – recently revealed vulnerabilities in Diqee’s Dongguan Diqee 360 robotic vacuum models, which feature Wi-Fi connectivity and a 360-degree camera for its mapping function. That camera also doubles as a home surveillance camera, and the device offers the option to engage a dynamic monitoring mode to make use of it.

The issue uncovered is a security flaw that allows an attacker to gain system administrator privileges by obtaining the robot’s media access control (MAC) address. In this particular case, once access is granted, anyone can view the night-vision-capable camera and potentially access the smartphone to which it is connected.

Codename: Cleaner

Even the more popular Roomba line by iRobot gathers data on its operation, sending it to the cloud and often to its corporate headquarters. This presents the opportunity for a data breach, wherein an attacker could collect a map of a user’s home. For the average consumer, this threat isn’t as significant as it sounds. However, if you feel the need to purchase a robotic vacuum – and you’re concerned about your privacy – make sure you cover your tracks.

Alternatively, just leave it disconnected from your home Wi-Fi, or stick with a traditional style of manual vacuum cleaner featured in our report, Household Floor Care Appliances: United States.

Want to Learn More?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! For additional information and analysis of US industry trends, see Household Floor Care Appliances: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2022 US electric household floor care appliance demand and shipments in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Total demand is segmented by product in terms of:

  • floor cleaners
  • floor cleaner parts and accessories
  • floor polishers and waxers
  • floor polisher and waxer parts and accessories

To illustrate historical trends, total demand, total shipments, the various demand segments, and trade are provided in annual series from 2007 to 2017.

This report encompasses electric appliances. Mechanical, non-electrical products (e.g., brooms, manual carpet sweepers, and mops); robotic vacuum cleaners; steam cleaners; and floor care appliances designed for commercial or industrial use are excluded from the scope. Parts for use in the manufacture of floor care appliances as well as replacement parts are included in the parts segments. Rubber belts for use in vacuum cleaners are not included. Re-exports of household floor care appliances are excluded from demand figures.

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About the Author

Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.