No One Trusts the Security of the Internet of Things

February 9, 2016 | 13:46
Rob Joyce at Usenix's Enigma conference
Rob Joyce at Usenix's Enigma conference

The security of the internet remains rickety. That point was rammed home in the summer of 2013, when whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that just about the entire global network was pwned by the US National Security Agency (NSA). So far, the primary use for the internet has been information exchange, so the poor state of network security has mostly resulted in data breaches. But now we are starting to hook up physical objects like cars, smart meters and home automation devices. With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), network intrusion can take a whole new level of dangerous tempering and creepiness.

Creepy, for instance, is a random internet user having access to footage of your networked camera. I say random internet user because it requires little skill to do so. Shodan, the search engine for devices, makes it easy for people to find insecure webcams that aren't password protected.

The number of vulnerable webcams is estimated to run in the millions, Ars Technica reports based on an interview with security researcher Dan Tentler. The reason the problem is so wide-spread is because no one cares about security. Ars writes:

Tentler told Ars that webcam manufacturers are in a race to bottom. Consumers do not perceive value in security and privacy. As a rule, many have not shown a willingness to pay for such things. As a result, webcam manufacturers slash costs to maximize their profit, often on narrow margins. Many webcams now sell for as little as £15 or $20.

"The consumers are saying 'we're not supposed to know anything about this stuff [cybersecurity]," Tentler said. "The vendors don't want to lift a finger to help users because it costs them money."

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