Connected Device Vulnerabilities


What if a hacker got to the smart grid? Or let’s say your connected healthcare device, ironically, received a virus. Or perhaps, even worse for some people, your shiny new tablet or ereader was attacked by malware.

Don’t think it cannot happen. In fact, with some people estimating the number of connected devices at five times the number of PCs connected to the Internet, the threat for hacks, vulnerabilities, viruses, and malware to such devices is very real. One company, San Francisco-based Mocana,, wants to do its part to educate the masses on such threats and has created a new “Smart Device Threat Center” knowledgebase and Website.

This centralized repository of information on smart device-based threats, hacks, vulnerabilities, viruses and malware will be unique in the sense it will centralize all information about threats to anything that connects to the Internet that is not a PC. This includes medical devices, industrial automation, office and datacom equipment, automotive and aviation electronics, federal and military devices, smart grid, embedded systems, point-of-sale, and near-field and communications devices, not to mention things like smartphones and tablets. In fact, the SDTC will also report on apps and services that run on smart devices, meaning it will cover anything and everything associated with threats to M2M and connected devices.

According to Mocana, threats to connected devices can have more widespread effects, due to the fact these devices are so interconnected that a failure to one on the network can carry forward across all devices on that network. The fact that devices are in the field for many years is another important factor to consider.

The SDTC will be much more than a repository for smartphone threats, says Mocana’s CEO Adrian Turner. “We’ll collate, analyze, and evaluate threats to the entire interconnected device ecosystem, including devices that play crucial roles in protecting life and property, like medical devices and industrial process controls,” adds Turner. “That breadth of coverage is important for this next wave of computing. The security bar needs to be much higher across every device class.”

Things like app stores, and even the coming of NFC (near field communications), present opportunity for hackers to launch unique attacks on devices and the network. Therefore, security needs for connected devices need to be constantly evolving. This is where Mocana’s open user community for SDTC could play a critical role protecting against such attacks.
According to the company, SDTC will allow users to submit their own reports and analysis of device security problems. In addition, much like Wikipedia, users will be able to edit live articles on specific threats and vulnerabilities.

If you think you are excited by all the possibilities that M2M and connected devices present to the market, just think about what hackers are envisioning. Security is a necessity and companies like Mocana are doing their part to ensure we are thinking about such things, both now and into the future.

Connected World Issue
June/July 2014
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