As Spring approaches, not only do the flowers begin to blossom and the winter clouds disperse, the tech industry begins to understand what the rest of 2017 may bring.
In the cybersecurity world, the dangers lurking in the Smart Home because of glaring holes in device security have been widely publicised. The CES show in Vegas showcased any number of products that will be released later this year to deal with the glaring problem.
A succession of attacks on US academia through so-called Smart light bulbs and even Smart vending machines have only highlighted the deficiencies of insecure networks. It appears that nobody is safe and even internet-connected teddy bears and plushes have been gateways for hackers.
That would be to exaggerate the problem, even at a time when cybersecurity is of the utmost importance. While anything new, such as IoT will always be of interest, sometimes it is the old ways that remain just as important.
Cybersecurity issues are nothing new. The internet had its 25th birthday last fall and hacking was born on the same day. In those disconnected times, viruses had to be loaded by an external floppy disk, a notion now that seems almost romantic and naive. The spread of the internet then provided a whole new global delivery system to mess with individuals and businesses
Some companies missed the boat completely. Microsoft incorrectly believed everything would stay on the desktop, leaving a hole for Google to step in and carve out the internet themselves. Apple’s operating system managed to insulate itself from the viruses that began to proliferate over email connections. The hackers, however, persisted.
Consumer security has changed extraordinarily over those 25 years. The acceleration of distribution and the chance for intelligent hackers, be they benign or malicious, to exploit an under-thought-out system has been revolutionary. From floppy disks to internet-connected teddy bears covers a wide expanse.
Those companies that invested in anti-virus solutions have moved with the times to protect consumers now have more than two decades of experience of constantly innovating and updating a (relatively cheap) product, something that IoT security companies can only dream of. Moreover, anti-virus products are as easy to use as pointing a mouse on a pad.
Recently, there has been contention about whether the anti-virus industry is coming to an end, whether the products themselves are a problem. This, however, misses the point. Anti-virus is still important, because every consumer has different levels of digital and computer literacy.
BullGuard is a consumer security company based in Silicon Valley that has been proactive in preparing products for the upcoming IoT battle, but is a business based on anti-virus products. CEO Paul Lipman has his eye on the crystal ball, but also an eye on the anti-virus business that his business is based on.
“The Smart Home is clearly a Dumb One with cheaply made devices and minimum password protection mixing with little interoperability, but I don’t understand why the consumer appears to be blamed for the situation.
“I’ve worked in this industry for ten years and seen a lot of changes and there will be more to come. But, don’t forget how anti-virus products managed to keep the internet going during the years when it was most vulnerable. I really think it still has a huge role to play in protecting the consumer,” he said.
Conversely, new experimental research from security company Kaspersky Labs suggests that consumers don’t even care about their content. A report released today showed that consumers would give away all their digital content for just over $11, even if 49% of these very same people regarded their family photos as the most precious data they owned.
It seems to be a mad, mad world where consumers are blamed for not protecting their Smart Homes, consumers would sell their content for peanuts and the 25-year-old history of anti-virus products is sidelined by future issues concerning IoT.