FEED Issue 08

27 TECHFEED Content Protection



In the 2015 Michael Mann film Blackhat , a major breach of security is made on a supposedly failsafe international shipping port via a humble vending machine. In this story, Chris Hemsworth’s ex-CIA operative was behind the hack, but it won’t always be the good guys. You can be sure that criminals won’t target the weakest link, and right now there’s no place more vulnerable than the home, where all manner of seemingly innocuous appliances present a web of opportunity for house-jacking. Relying on technology such as gateways and sensors, smart home services allow us to do all sorts of convenient things like secure door and window locks, receive alerts for motion in the house or water leakage near fish tanks, check temperature, receive notifications of food expiry from the fridge and record the entire home through cameras. There will be three times as many devices connected to the internet by 2022 than there are humans, reckons Gartner Research – resulting in a flood of unsecured consumer devices in homes. Without any standard means of joining them all together, the multiplication of apps that control each device can end up compromising security. Into the breach have stepped utility companies, internet giants like Amazon and Google, CCTV specialists, telcos and pay-TV operators. They’re all offering

gateways to connect home owners conveniently with their range of smart home devices. The key is trust. Pay-TV providers are said to be in a decent position to capitalise on the smart home by building on the solid relationship they already have with customers. “A connected home is a very personal environment,” says Jim Phillipoff at Irdeto. “From cameras monitoring your door to nanny-cams taking care of your children, the risk of images ending up on the internet is too high. Everything has to be protected.” One security specialist points out that hacking kits and malware are available on forums for use by anyone who can follow a set of instructions. Unsurprisingly, we do care about securing where we live. Smart home products with strong safety features may command the highest prices at retail, found a recent PwC survey, but more of us are willing to spend that for safety. Hackers exploiting unsecured hybrid set top boxes may aim to install malware to take control of the STB, or as a platform for attacking other devices in the home. Pierre-Alexandre Bidard of Viaccess-Orca goes further. “The STB can become a weapon,” he says. “For example, it can be used to launch denial of service attacks on other organisations’ IT networks.” The home is not the target, but becomes the weakest link for attacks on enterprise networks.

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