By Tobias Manolo
Under the increasingly broad term coined in 2013, that of ‘Internet of Things’, comes machine-to-machine (M2M) devices; it is this area that hackers are starting to focus on in 2014 and it seems that this is an area where they are most likely to succeed! According to Rapid7, a company that specialises in vulnerability management, as we increase the use of network-connected devices the cyber-criminals are just rubbing their hands together! Particularly as security appears to be a bit of an afterthought for many device vendors, appearing as an add-on rather than as part of the product’s design.
And it’s not just the mobile devices when it comes to the ‘Internet of Things’ that we have to be concerned about, the umbrella also includes medical devices, thermostats, our humble TVs, home security equipment… the list goes on! All of these items are connected to the Internet but when it comes to security and exposure to cyber-attack, it’s the last thing considered… if it is considered at all!
Up to now many embedded devices have escaped the hooks of the hacker, but security researchers have noticed that there is a significant rise in the number of M2M cyber-attacks, backed up by Symantec in November last year when they released their analysis on a worm, nicknamed ‘Linux.Darlloz’, which targeted Linux distributions with chipset variants usually found in security cameras, set-top boxes and home internet routers.
In today’s incredibly competitive M2M industry, companies are far more concerned with getting their latest product to market thank making sure the design incorporates sufficient security measures that will protect a user’s data. Add to this the issue that most engineering teams fail to collaborate and communicate effectively with other teams within the company, or with their customers! It is this lack of communication that results in designs that fail to protect and lead the company to miss out on a whole range of marketable opportunities.
The M2M market and the use of internet-connected devices throughout our lives is, without doubt, going to grow in 2014 and coming years, the security issue is just going to escalate until companies take note and do something about it. One company has even claimed that we may well see the first ‘murder’ carried out using a compromised, cyber-attacked device! Strong words, but could it be a reality one day?
However, it is definitely time to take heed of Internet Identity’s 2014 predictions; that there are dark days ahead when it comes to the ‘Internet of Things’ and by 2015, hackers will have learnt how to cause yet more chaos, but this time through our homes.