Intelligent device manufacturers and their customers, can mitigate risk against ‘thingbots’

Recently, much attention has been paid to potential security threats facing smart internet-connected appliances – thermostats, TVs, wireless speaker systems, refrigerators, cars, etc. As the news progresses from the advantages of the Internet of Things to the associated risks of exposure, it is possible for device manufacturers and consumers to embrace these products while keeping risks at bay.

 

One of the primary concerns associated with internet-connected devices is the risks from hackers exploiting vulnerabilities and using applications on a device as a vector for viruses/malware.  As we’ve seen in recent days cybersecurity risks associated with internet-connected devices are alarming. Indeed, Proofpoint Security’s latest survey pointed to 750,000 malicious emails sent from 100,000 smart devices in December alone.

 

These type of ‘thingbot’ attacks on Internet-connected devices can be avoided, and manufacturers and consumers can take steps to help mitigate the risks associated with them.

 

Intelligent device manufacturers can use a number of techniques to reduce the hacker risk and exposure from their internet-connected devices, including:

 

  • Using tamper resistant licencing code

 

  • Strengthen protection by investing time to reverse engineering embedded software that sits on the device and make changes at machine level if necessary.

 

  • Make it easy for devices and mobile device management systems to get the latest security patches and updates quickly

 

  • Encourage and incent customers to register their devices

 

  •  Encourage and remind customers to upgrade firmware or software on their devices

 

  • Proactively monitor devices for software application issues

 

  • Monitor and track security patch levels so device manufacturers are aware of their exposure and to make sure only authorised users are using software applications

 

  • Send software and firmware patches and updates to your entitled customers using secure download URLs that expire

 

As the Internet of Things gathers pace, consumers also need to be more wary about the smart devices they install into their home they can do that by:

  • reviewing any documentation that accompanies a device to check for security recommendations

 

  • by registering the product, which allows the manufacturer to make contact in the event of a hacking incident

 

  • contacting the manufacturer immediately if they feel the device has been hacked/compromised

 

  • following manufacturer recommendations regarding the creation of a user ID and safe password

 

With analyst groups predicting that up to 200bn items will be connected to the internet by 2020, the pressure is on for manufacturers and consumers to take simple and effective measures that will help protect them from the lurking cybercriminals.

 

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