Mobile Banking Safer than Using Your PCIBTimes UK

The age of the Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us, as consumers move away from PCs to devices that are always connected and sharing information about their daily lives.

Yet the pace of development of this technology has moved so quickly that security problems are making headlines much more frequently than in any other period in technology history.

Just in the last week, security researchers at Proofpoint uncovered what they believe might be the first ever IoT cyber-attack whereby smart appliances such as routers, home entertainment centres and fridges were used to send out over 750,000 malicious emails.

"Hackers are more likely to install malware on smart appliances as they know that people are less concerned about their security. I mean, who would think your fridge would send out spam emails? This will give them more time to run their bots and go undetected," Yuval Ben-Itzhak, the CTO of AVG Technologies told IBTimes UK.

Closer to the money

Before we had the recent trend for smart appliances, it was the smartphone explosion which had been dominating technology trends, and according to Ben-Itzhak, hackers made the shift from PCs to smartphones because these devices are "much closer to the money".

"In the time before smartphones, as a hacker if I stole your credit card details, I'd still need to go online and sell it or use it in a transaction.

"[Once] my malware is on your mobile number, I could start to send you premium SMS text messages and charge you a £1-a-message, and mostly, [consumers] aren't going to notice it on their monthly bills as it's such a small amount and ­doesn't change your total bill by much."

Difficult ot protect

Hackers are similarly interested in smart appliances and wearable tech as not only can botnets run on IoT devices undetected, but the data being transmitted over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth can easily be hijacked, particularly since it is difficult to install security products on these devices.

A key problem, Ben-Itzhak mentions, is that there are so many different companies creating wearable technology, and none of it is designed to work with products from other companies.

"We want to see a horizontal platform whereby the consumer can monitor all their connected devices, where they can receive centralised information and alerts, so they know when to take action to secure their privacy," he said.

Next wave of technology

In order to achieve this, the whole industry needs to come together, says Ben-Itzhak, otherwise consumers have a lot to lose.

"Usually, getting agreements on standards within the industry and getting vendors to implement those standards takes many, many years, and today, the [rate of new] technology has sped up so much that the industry doesn't have time to come to an agreement, so my concern is that once the standards have been agreed on by the industry, it will be time for the next wave of technology."

Ben-Itzhak believes that in order for his company and other security vendors to provide adequate protection on these smart, connected devices, manufacturers need to open up their platforms:

"There needs to be openness between products and companies, using APIs, so that security can be monitored. Wearables are going to be moving very fast, so we recommend that wearable tech companies [make] their platforms open to let companies focusing on security plug in and provide [monitoring] information so that the consumer is not left vulnerable while standards are being decided."