Police chief in Durham UK wants security ratings on smart appliances

In the U.K., Durham chief constable Mike Barton argues that customers should be given security information about Internet-ready appliances in the same way as they are required to give energy efficiency ratings.

Barton notes that smart appliances such as Samsung's Family Hub Refrigerator should be required to show a security rating. Barton the national policing lead for crime operations, sees the idea as part of efforts to protect customers from fraudsters and hackers in the area of the Internet of Things as devices can be put on line and interconnected. Analysts predict that by 2020 there may be as many as 21 billion connected devices globally. This has sparked a spate of security warnings since as soon as devices are connected to the Internet they are subject to hacking. There are even reports that devices such as baby monitors could be subject to hacking.
Barton said of the smart refrigerator: “It’s not just how many yogurts you are eating that is at risk, it’s that your Internet of things are all plugged into the same network. That is a back door into your network... You’ve got a situation where we don’t know what the security is like in the devices we are buying in the Internet of things. It’s just not reported. And yet that is the most significant component of what it is you are buying.” He said that the responsibility for developing a satisfactory rating system should be on the industry.
The problem is that unlike energy efficiency appliances resilience to attack can vary over time as new weaknesses are found and hackers develop new techniques. What is important is that appliances be updated with security patches. Yet Barton claimed that it was important to develop ratings now while the market was not swamped with such products.
Even now there are an estimated 13.4 billion devices connected to the Internet. Security company Avast, demonstrated a hack of a Vizio Smart TV that enabled it to access the underlying Linux operating system. Vizio was able to successfully solve the issues Avast discovered. Nevertheless, the Avast discovery was just one of many as many vulnerabilities in smart TV's were revealed at the annual Black Hat computer conference way back in 2013. The vulnerabilities of the Samsung smart refrigerator are outlined in this article.. The vulnerability left those using the fridge open to having credentials stolen by anyone able to access their Wifi-networks.


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