Connected homes under threat

ACN's Alexander Pieri contemplates the expanding IT security perimeter.

Tags: Cyber crimeCyber warfareITP Media Group (itp.com/)McAfee (mcafee.com)United Arab Emirates
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Connected homes under threat Alexander Sophoclis Pieri, editor of ACN.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  June 24, 2017

Despite the month being relatively quiet on the home front, one topic that seemed to pop up quite often was the topic of security. In particular, my one-on-one with McAfee's Steve Grobman (see ACN July 2017) was especially illuminating.

We delved into the latest developments in the cyber threat landscape, touching upon the advent of ransomware, the dangers of IoT, as well as the weaponsiation of data.  

One of the things that Grobman mentioned during our brief chat that quickly got me thinking was this idea that consumer devices are being targeted, not in an effort to compromise the owner of the device, but rather to serve as a medium to go after bigger targets.

During the interview, Grobman explained: "One of the issues is where the incentives for the owner of the device are not necessarily aligned with the ultimate victim. It is the consumer that bought the device, yet, the consumer is not the one being attacked. The attack is being executed against a business or organisation."

What I find interesting about this, if you consider the concept behind a security perimeter, which was traditionally imagined around the IT infrastructure or office building, the penetration point has changed dramatically.

No longer do hackers have to come to you perimeter to initiative their siege. Their Trojan horse can be prepped for deployment, right from the nearest Starbucks and the target wouldn't even know it.

Of course why go to a public venue to begin with, when you know that the one place where the target will always be, is where they lay their head down for the night. That means homes and in this day and age, it means connected homes.

So just have a password on your network and you're good, right? Well, as you can see from ACN July 2017's data page (Pg. 18), which explored the threats levied against connected homes, you'll see that a lot of people haven't set themselves up properly. Some don't even have passwords on their networks.

Even if they did though, the unfortunate truth is that consumer grade devices simply do not have the same level of technology and sophistication as enterprise hardware. Thus they make for easier entry points for hackers.

They infect your smart fridge, which then infects your smartphone, and when you get to the office the next day, the whole IT comes crashing down and you won't even understand why?

The other unfortunate truth about the whole affair is that there really isn't a simple solution to the problem. Sure you could install enterprise grade security in the household, but is that really a viable solution for every employee in the company?

Well, not unless security technology providers come up with a new, affordable model of selling their products.

You could enforce strict policies around accessing company systems from offsite, as well as work device usage within the home environment, but these interrupt the flow and expectations of modern day business. Working from home would also become a tricky affair as well.

For the time being, we should all be mindful of what we access and what we download off the internet. At the very least, add a password to your home network.

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