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Connecting the Home Creates New Security Risks

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 1:29pm
Ben Munson

The connected home is built largely on a promise of heightened security. But by adding smart capabilities to the home, we’re opening it up to new threats. Gary Davis, vice president of global consumer marketing at McAfee, will address these concerns during his Day One talk at CTIA. Drawing on his experience at the security software giant and his work as a board member at the National Cyber Security Alliance, Davis will point out the current weakest link for the connected home as well as the problems that lie ahead.

Wireless Week: Are smartphones the biggest security risk currently for the connected home?

Gary Davis: From my perspective they are. I’m going to outline the fact that the devices themselves have issues. For example, there’s some recent research that says the average IoT device in the home has 25 vulnerabilities. We’re going to talk the security challenges with the cloud.

But from my perspective, right now the smartphone is the weak link. And I’ll explain why and go through some use cases as to why that’s very real.

WW: What is the industry doing to address these risks?

Davis: Several things. Obviously we continue to evolve the security framework for phones. We’re embedding security lower and lower. For example, there’s some chip-level security that’s coming out. We’re providing a richer set of security capabilities for the mobile phone in particular. But we need to continue to be very diligent and that we’re doing every possible thing we can to make sure that, if that device is lost, stolen or a target of attack, that we’re preventing it from affecting the home.

WW: As the connected home space evolves, what kind of security risks lie ahead?

Davis: There’s literally a Pandora’s Box of things that are going to be happening. If you look at the way the landscape has evolved, look back at Windows. They were going after a land grab, getting as much adoption as possible. The same with Android, when you go on the premise of trying to make it as convenient as possible for people to use in their home, that almost by definition says we’re going to forego some of the security safeguards. Everything from the Wi-Fi connections to the different devices; for example, there’s some evidence of smart devices being used as part of a botnet attack. The whole space is going to continue to evolve because when consumers take these devices into the home, they’re not necessarily doing their homework and some of the precautionary things.

But the landscape of things that could happen and have been happening is pretty broad.

WW: How do software companies like McAfee factor long-term into the connected home space?

Davis: We have for the past several years been focused on the notion of protecting your digital life. We need to continue to build products and solutions that look at this holistically. If you look at our space, it was built around the notion of anti-virus on a PC. That space is a distant past. If we look at where we are today and where we’re going, it’s all about providing that security that looks at every facet of the digital life. Everything from the device to where you’re using the device and what for, to how do we provide security frameworks for device manufacturers to embrace when they’re bringing out these new IoT capabilities and technologies.

Gary Davis will present at CTIA Super Mobility Week on Sept. 9 at 4 p.m.

 

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