Of Frankenbeasts and Fear of Fridges

Posted by Voipfone on February 27, 2015

“By 2020, the number of smartphones tablets and PCs in use will reach about 7.3 billion units […] In contrast, the Internet of Things will have expanded at a much faster rate, resulting in a population of about 26 billion units at that time.” (Gartner, 2013).

The IoT is now, officially The Next Big Thing.

As usual, this ‘new’ thing has been around for many years; just like Voipfone did ‘The Cloud’ many years before the term was invented, Voipfone did IoT well before a clever marketer gave it a moniker – a VoIP telephone being a lump of hardware that is also an Internet end-point – and a Thing.

The Register ran a nice story on this Thing a while ago involving the first known hack of a refrigerator. They’ve now run one with the glorious title of:

“Internet of Thieves: All that shiny home security gear is crap”

HP’s blog title is almost as good:

“IoT is the Frankenbeast of Information Security”

In short HP’s geeks looked at the top 10 selling IoT home security devices and were able to brute-force all of them. There’s something deeply ironic about a security device that can be easily hacked and then used to check whether you’re at home before robbing you…

Previously HP had looked at all sort of other devices from boiler thermostats to lighting circuit controls and found similar problems. It seem that we’ve forgotten all that we’ve learned the hard way about security and every new generation of equipment is released with dreadful vulnerabilities.

Almost simultaneously, we found out that Big Brother was watching us. Or, rather, listening to us through our Samsung ‘smart’ TV.

“If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search to execute the command. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”

The use of the word ‘consents’ is interesting – basically, it just means ‘uses’ the damn Thing. The voice recognition server is thousands of miles away in another country listening to – and recording – your mutterings about Eastenders. Good luck to ‘em.

But it is all becoming a bit Skynet; the machines are coming after us. A while back 750,000 spam emails and phishing attempts came from everyday home gadgets – your fridge could now be part of a global botnet and my toaster is reading everything I’m typing on it.

Welcome to the future, you’re already pwned.

HP Report:

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