Monday, August 4, 2014

A connected home is a more dangerous home

The prestigious Collins english dictionary defines "thing" as "any inanimate object." This definition is not very helpful when it comes to explain what the "Internet of Things" (IoT) is. IoT is the growing trend of providing an internet connection to devices that have traditionally always worked without it. For example, washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, lighting systems, etc.

BBC’s technology correspondent, Mark Ward, wonders what security implications such "smart appliances" may have for people’s lives. Most of them are connected to WiFi networks so they can be controlled from a mobile app. But as security analyst Dan Cuthbert said, most manufacturers do not invest enough money to develop secure management apps. Nevertheless he admits that nowadays the risk is minimal, but at the same time he warns about the risk of sensitive information leakages when these devices become mainstream.

In the case of mobile phones, the process of becoming "smart" devices with internet connection was much faster. Today, most users do not conceive a phone that does not allow them access to their email, online banking, messaging apps or social networks. But this process also accelerated the arrival of information leaks, malware infections and other threats to smartphones. In fact, researchers have identified a number of vulnerabilities in the built-in management tools included in billions of handsets that could be exploited to remotely control them.

Mobile phones are also dangerous when we are driving. There are still too many drivers who check their notifications or make calls while driving. Therefore, the Association of Chief Police Officers instructs officers to seize and check the mobile phones of the people involved in an accident to find out if the use of these devices have had something to do with the accident.

Mobile phones aside, let’s  think of the dangers of a printer. Apparently it's a pretty harmless device, right? But according to the results of analysis tools from the security company Norse, an openly visible network attached multifunction printer (MFP) is a security loophole for hundreds of healthcare organizations in the U.S. If its configuration by default is not changed, a hacker could send the documents to print to himself, access those documents are stored in the printer or penetrate the institution’s network for  even more "juicy" information.

But security problems can be found far beyond the "Internet of things". Security breaches can affect servers, like in the incident in which Mozilla has accidentally exposed the email addresses of 76,000 of its Developer Network members and 4,000 of their encrypted passwords. Even the most popular antivirus solutions contain vulnerabilities in their engines that can pose a risk to its users, as explained by researcher at security company COSEINC, Joxean Koret, at the SyScan 360 security conference in early July.

As you can see, cyber threats are everywhere. If you want to keep yourself updated about all the risks of technology, the best you can do is to follow us through our social channels (find the links at the right sidebar) or here on our blog.


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