The truth is, most IoT devices can be turned into botnets

9 Mar 2018

Image: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock

The rise of major botnet events such as Mirai and WannaCry showed the vulnerability of some IoT devices, but the problem actually exists in almost all of them.

There was some funding success this week in the internet of things (IoT) sphere with Berlin-based smart home developer Senic securing $4m in seed funding from US and German investors.

Senic said that it is targeting the convergence between the traditional building automation market and the fast-growing market for DIY systems adopted by tech-savvy consumers.

Future Human

The company’s product portfolio includes the Red Dot Design award-winning Nuimo smart home controller and the Covi lamp.

In other news, of course, Amazon admitted that Alexa was indeed creeping out customers with a spontaneous laugh through Echo devices, and promised to fix it.

Almost all devices can be turned into botnets

There was an uncomfortable and worrying finding made by a team of Israeli security researchers this week, which discovered that botnets such as Mirai were not limited to a small number of devices and that, actually, the whole IoT ecosystem is at risk.

According to TechRepublic, the team from Ben-Gurion University decided to see how a selection of off-the-shelf devices would stand to rigorous security testing, to see if they could be compromised and if they could be used for a botnet attack.

A total of 16 devices were selected, ranging from baby monitors to temperature sensors and, of that number, 14 of their passwords could be obtained in as little as 30 minutes.

“Right now, devices you are buying today are very, very easy to attack and the problem is that once you attack it once, all of these devices can be attacked remotely,” said Yossi Oren of the research team.

“So, you only need to do this one time, this process of taking them apart. And one problem, a big problem, with IoT devices – when you compare them to computers and phones – is that these devices are mostly going to be installed in some corner, in some alley, in some doorway, and not touched for 10 or 20 years.”

People are attacking driverless cars in California

Is there an anti-technology revolution underway in California?

According to crash reports filed with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and seen by the LA Times, people are attacking prototype autonomous vehicles while they are out testing.

Of the six accidents in the state involving autonomous cars in 2018 so far, two of them were due to humans running over to the car and attacking it.

One report said that a male pedestrian attacked a Chevy Bolt in San Francisco as it waited at a traffic light with a presumably terrified human (a safety measure) locked inside.

The man supposedly ran across, shouting, and proceeded to strike the car’s rear, causing damage.

A second incident saw another Chevy Bolt – controlled by a human driver – attacked by a taxi driver who “slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch”.

IIoT market to be worth almost $200bn by 2023

The latest report from market researchers suggests that one of the biggest applications of connected sensors – the industrial IoT (IIoT) – is expected to be worth considerably more than it is now in just a few years’ time.

According to Allied Market Research, while the IIoT market was valued at $115bn in 2016, this is projected to jump to $197bn by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.5pc from 2017 to 2023.

In 2016, the hardware components dominated the IIoT market in terms of revenue. Based on application, the manufacturing application led the market with 35pc share in 2016.

Other key findings of the report showed that the Asia-Pacific region is expected to exhibit promising growth rate during the forecast period, and IIoT industry participants are anticipated to focus on introducing new products through increased partnership.

UK government to review autonomous car laws

The UK government is set to begin working to define new laws for the introduction of autonomous cars on public roads, including accounting for possible new criminal offences brought on by their arrival.

According to The Guardian, the review process will last three years, which the government believes gives it the necessary time before it meets its promise of the cars becoming legal by 2021.

Other aspects to be analysed by the review include how the cars will interact with public transport and their impact on other road users.

“Driving technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate; it is important that our laws and regulations keep pace so that the UK can remain one of the world leaders in this field,” said the UK’s roads minister, Jesse Norman.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic