Making smart devices secure
Recent cyber attacks harnessing everyday devices such as cameras, video recorders, printers, routers and speakers are a wake-up call to the hidden dangers of the internet of things (IoT).
The problem for the device makers, though, is that few are well-equipped to tackle the unfamiliar task of foiling hackers.
“The harsh reality is that cyber security is not even on the radar of many manufacturers,” said Trent Telford, CEO of Covata, an internet security firm. “Security will eventually become more of a priority, but it may well be too late for this generation of IoT users.”
Up to 30 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020 — all potentially vulnerable.
The danger was highlighted when hundreds of thousands of consumer devices were harnessed recently into so-called botnets, launching attacks on target websites, including PayPal, Spotify and Twitter.
Cyber security experts say this is just the beginning, but a handful of industry groups are emerging to focus exclusively on security.
Refiti set up IoTSec Australia in 2016 to work with entrepreneurs, while U.K.-based IoT Security Foundation has chipmaker ARM, Huawei and Philips among its members.
Its main goal, says founder John Moor, is to simplify guidance so engineers actually read it. The foundation is releasing its first best-practice manual, condensing a more than 300-page industry document to just 30 pages.
“The challenge is more than the technical challenge” for these companies, said Moor. “You can put in security features, but do you have the right processes in place, are you doing the right things?” Reuters