The curious case of how a casino’s database was hacked by a fish tank

20 Apr 2018

Image: Beautiful landscape/Shutterstock

This week in IoT, we learned that even a fish tank isn’t safe from poor network security and how Microsoft launched its latest connected device chip.

This week in the internet of things (IoT) space, we saw how Dublin’s four local authorities created the Smart Dublin initiative to use technology to improve city living as part of the Dublin Action Plan for Jobs.

The organisation revealed that €900,000 in funding, spanning five critical projects, is available for entrepreneurs and organisations, including tech firms and universities.

Organisations that can deploy technology in areas ranging from IoT to bathing water quality, and foster better inclusion, are being sought to apply for the five Small Business Innovation Research competitions.

Fish tank used to hack into casino database of high-rollers

As we’ve seen time and time again, vulnerable IoT devices are everywhere. However, a recent anecdote from the CEO of cybersecurity firm Darktrace showed what lengths some will go to, to hack into a system.

According to Business Insider, Nicole Egan addressed the WSJ CEO Council Conference in London by saying: “There’s a lot of IoT devices; everything from thermostats, refrigeration systems, HVAC systems, to people who bring in their Alexa devices into the offices. There’s just a lot of IoT. It expands the attack surface, and most of this isn’t covered by traditional defences.”

She went on to describe a case the company worked on whereby a casino’s database of high-rollers was hacked thanks to a vulnerable thermostat found in its large fish tank.

“The attackers used that to get a foothold in the network,” she said. “They then found the high-roller database and then pulled that back across the network, out the thermostat and up to the cloud.”

Microsoft reveals Linux-based IoT platform

Microsoft’s latest security solution for IoT has been revealed. Called Azure Sphere, the platform is based on a custom Linux kernel with the intention of being a protective layer in the cloud for a multitude of devices.

What’s notable is the fact that this is the first time Microsoft has delved into a custom Linux operating system instead of its own Windows.

The company hopes that as more and more devices get connected online, Azure Sphere will be its backbone, with Glen Dimplex’s deputy chair, Neil Naughton, quoted by Microsoft as saying: “The work Microsoft is doing with Azure Sphere uniquely addresses the security challenges of the connected microcontrollers shipping in billions of devices every year.

“We look forward to integrating Azure Sphere into our product lines later this year.”

Another company aims to fill our orbit with IoT satellites

A start-up in Adelaide called Fleet Space Technologies is one of the latest companies with ambitions to launch a series of low-Earth orbit nanosatellites capable of gathering data from sensors and other IoT devices.

According to Computerworld, the company has so far raised A$5m since its launch in 2015, giving it enough to launch the first two satellites this year.

The South Australian government has also provided an additional A$500,000 in funding, with David Ball, a principal consultant in the department of state development, saying its service would be substantially cheaper than existing systems, knocking it down from A$53 per sq km to A$0.32.

By 2021 at the latest, the company plans to have five satellites in each of the 20 low-Earth orbits.

Huawei planning speedy roll-out of NB-IoT in India

Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei is planning to make India a focus for its roll-out of NB-IoT networks and has progressed talks with India’s leading telecoms providers.

According to ET Telecom, Huawei’s president of LTE solutions, Xiong Wei, said that the country will see a speedy deployment of up to 100 NB-IoT commercial networks by the end of this year, compared with the 36 existing networks.

“We believe that the manufacturing of terminals and modules for NB-IoT in India will speed up,” he said.

“Participation of local operators for such deployments is very much needed for successful projects and it certainly makes a difference.”

A study conducted by Deloitte in India found that the number of IoT devices in the country is around 60m and will increase to 1.9bn by 2020.

The IoT market in the country will reach $15bn by this point, accounting for 5pc of the global market.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic