IoT in the crosshairs of hackers at DefCon

Every August, hackers and cybersecurity professionals from around the world gather in Las Vegas to trade tricks, tips and break things for fun and to help increase consumer security. The event is called “DefCon,” and this year’s event promises to be as great as usual with one particularly exciting new element: the Internet of Things (IoT) Village.

The IoT is a broad term for everyday devices, appliances and objects that are connected to the Internet for analysis, remote control and general efficiency. It’s a fledgling – though important – capability that’s rapidly being stuck onto nearly everything. And therein lies our problem.

In our race to drive efficiency and ease of use, we’ve neglected to properly secure the IoT. We’ve already seen hacked IoT televisions and refrigerators, and we’re prepping to see more instances of hacked and compromised devices. DefCon’s IoT Village provides an opportunity for hackers and security pros to sit down together and figure out how to compromise, and thus how to best secure, these devices.

So what will the security geniuses be looking out for? Well, one goal of the IoT Village is to discover zero-day vulnerabilities — vulnerabilities that haven’t been documented before — and educate security professionals with presentations and workshops. A condition of participation is that all vulnerabilities will be documented, and affected manufacturers will be notified, so that they can take action. I am looking forward to seeing the insights that come out of this event, and hope that manufacturers will embrace findings from this year’s DefCon as well.

The end objective of this three-day hacking festival is a better understanding of what vulnerabilities exist, the best practices to keep devices secure and, hopefully, a lot of patched exploits.

So what can you do to keep your personal IoT secure? Well, here are a few tips you should consider:

  • Update your software. Smart TVs, thermostats, refrigerators, etc. along with Internet-connected gaming consoles, and other Internet-connected devices are fairly new to the market, and because of that, many companies are still working out security kinks. When an update is offered, run it. In most cases, the new version may include patches to close up recently discovered security holes.
  • Protect your mobile devices. Our mobile phones and tablets often control smart devices, so protecting these controllers will help protect your smart devices. McAfee LiveSafe™ service provides comprehensive mobile security that offers real-time protection against mobile viruses, spam, and more. If you already have computer protection, you can install McAfee Mobile Security on your iPhone or Android device free of charge.
  • Browse smart devices with caution. Smart devices aren’t immune to viruses, malware, and botnets. When using Internet-connected gaming consoles and televisions, browse the web with caution—don’t click on links from unknown senders, and ignore any attempt to lure you with the promise of a deal that seems “too good to be true.”

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following @IntelSec_Home and me on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

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