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September 11, 2014

Emerging IoT standards have “insufficient” security layers

Potential attacks on white goods and door locks

By Amy-Jo Crowley

The key to Internet of Things (IoT) success lies in security capability that would take account of the extended lifecycles, low processing power and potential inaccessibility of connected devices.

The latest report from Beecham Research claims that there are currently insufficient security capabilities within emerging IoT standards to manage the long life-cycles expected of many IoT devices.

"There is an urgent need to deliver cost effective solutions that enable robust security but also to retain the flexibility to deliver real benefits in the face of expected threats," said Haydn Povey of Beecham Research.

The report argued that vendors from silicon semiconductor manufacturers to network operators and system integrators must unite to ensure security of the IoT.

Professor Jon Howes, one of the authors of the report and Technology Director at Beecham Research, said: "Devices must be securely managed over their entire lifecycle, to be reset if needed and to enable remote remediation to rebuild and extend security capabilities over time."

The report also highlighted potential future attacks on IoT systems and how these may ultimately impact users, from home owners losing control of white goods, door locks being disengaged or security alarms being monitored.

"The attack surface of an Internet of Things system may be substantially larger than traditional PCs, as the complexity of ensuring multiple vendors’ systems working together will lead to a greater probability of exploits being available," said Howes.

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"We have all become familiar with computer malware but the impact of equivalent IoT attacks could be to turn off a heating system in the middle of winter or take control of other critical IoT systems, which could be potentially life threatening."

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