How Secure Are Your IoT Connected Smart Devices?
When most people think about cyber security and potential threats, the last thing they are going to worry about is their smart refrigerator, smart TV, or smart thermostat being vulnerable to potential hacking. However, people do need to be aware of the vulnerabilities of their smart devices and products, as well as wearables they use to communicate with their smartphone and smart homes.

With the development of the IoT (Internet of Things) and beginning of the age of the modern smart home, most people would be surprised by the actual number of vulnerabilities within smart devices, products, and wearables. You might be wondering what a hacker would gain by cracking a vulnerability within your smart refrigerator other than access to your grocery list.

Your smart refrigerator is actually a launching pad hackers can use to gain access to other connected devices and information. For instance, your TV, thermostat, garage door opener, security system, and lights are all part of the same smart home network. By gaining access to the refrigerator, a hacker potentially also has access to all of these other smart connected devices, including the Internet, as well as any other devices connected to your home network, like your laptop computer, smartphone, and tablet.

As such, just how difficult would it be for a hacker to tell your security system to shut off and signal the garage door to open? Not as hard as you might think with many of the poorly secured smart devices on the market today. You could easily come home and find you have been robbed, yet your security system was never set off and there was no forced entry into the home, simply because a hacker used your smart devices to gain entry into your home.

Why IoT Smart Devices Have Security Vulnerabilities

If you think about certain home devices, most manufacturers have not had to deal with security vulnerabilities in the past. Most manufacturers of home products, like appliances, thermostats, and lighting are entering into an entirely new area of technology by incorporating IoT features within new products. As a result, they are quick to get products to market and rather than performing an extensive assessment of potential security vulnerabilities are relying upon off-the-shelf solutions and open source library sharing to incorporate smart technologies within their product lines.

To make manufacturers more aware of the potential for home cyber-attacks, the OTA (Online Trust Alliance), a nonprofit organization, has invested time and research in the types of vulnerabilities IoT devices, products, and wearables contain. What this organization discovered was all of the vulnerabilities they uncovered were avoidable had the manufacturer implemented the proper security features.

Another issue consumers need to understand is how the privacy practices, security, and interconnectivity of their smart devices work. In some cases, the device is passing through multiple levels of connectivity at a given time. Data stored within the device is transmitted over a wireless connection to an app on a smart phone or wearable, and simultaneously could also be uploading online via the Internet. Due to the nature of how some IoT devices work, it creates numerous points of potential hacking opportunities for hackers.

The goal of the OTA is to help educate retailers, realtors, manufacturers, and consumers about the potential vulnerabilities in smart devices and smart homes and what can be done to improve security by providing a framework of security risks. The main objective of the OTA efforts is to help establish market practices where manufacturers start to certify their smart devices and the security features they contain, as well as provide consumers with a viable method to test for potential vulnerabilities.

Essentially, right now a manufacturer could roll out an IoT product and later discover it has numerous security vulnerabilities. Rather than address those, they could simply discontinue the product along with any security fixes, patches, and updates the device needs, leaving consumers at risk. This is another area the OTA is working towards resolving by working with various law enforcement and government agencies to ensure manufacturers can be held accountable for not addressing and resolving security risks in released products.

With the start of the IoT age of the smart home, it opens up concerns for both manufacturers and consumers alike, in regards to security, product liability, and other legal implications. The OTA hopes their efforts help change manufacturing processes, vulnerability testing, and support for IoT devices throughout their product lifecycles to reduce security risks from hackers.

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Posted by: DSR
Monday, October 3, 2016
Tag: Legal
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