The internet has grown exponentially since it was introduced in 1981, and it’s unlikely anyone foresaw the level of dependency we’d have on it. Not only are we connecting our computers, phones, and tablets, but also our thermostats, TVs, vehicles, watches, refrigerators, toasters, light bulbs and a host of house hold appliances. Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT).
While these innovations have made our lives easier and everyday tasks convenient, it’s also brought with it some serious security concerns. Traditionally we think about hackers breaking into our computers, but your Philip’s Hue light bulb is just as much at risk, if not more, than your laptop. If connected to the internet, your thermostat, security system, and refrigerator are all vulnerable to attacks.
How Serious Are IoT Vulnerabilities?
On January 27th, the FTC issued a report detailing best practices and recommendations for businesses to follow in order to protect consumer’s privacy when dealing with IoT devices. In their report, the FTC identified three security risks: the increased number of Internet-connected devices increases the number of network vulnerabilities and creates a greater possibility for unauthorized access; the proliferation of devices can facilitate attacks, such as DOS attacks, on other systems; and the exploitation of vulnerabilities on the devices themselves and the networks they are on, creating risks for personal and physical safety.
The Internet of Things is currently in the infant stages of life, and as such the focus has been on innovation and timely product launches rather than security. Just last July Alex Chapman and his team broke into a network via an LIFX bulb and was able to capture the WiFi details and decrypt the credentials without being detected. While LIFT fixed the vulnerability with a firmware update, for many the damage could have already be done. Your data, network and devices are at greater risk as these devices are added to your network.
Consumers aren’t the only ones in danger. In December of last year, a steel plant in Germany was hacked, and the furnaces were unable to shut off. The unknown hacker was able to take full control over various automated processes by using a sophisticated spear phishing method. As more industries connect their systems to the Internet, they expose themselves to these types of hacks.
How To Protect Yourself:
While companies work to improve the security of their products, you can take steps to protect yourself and your data.
- Perhaps the most obvious step you can take to protect your information is to create passwords that aren’t easily guessed and changed every 3-6 months.
- Update the firmware and software on your devices regularly. While not all updates contain security patches, many do. Failing to update your devices could leave you exposed to a well-known vulnerability.
- Use a router with WP2 encryption for your wireless network. If you have an older router, that doesn’t offer WPA2, toss it out and get one that does. And while you’re at it, opt for a router that supports multiple SSID’s. Put all your personal networking devices on one network and your IoT’s on another. This way if your IoT devices are compromised, your personal devices will remain isolated from them and less vulnerable.
The IoT has come a long way in a very short time, but it has an even longer way to go. The opportunity is there, and companies are making new devices enhance our everyday lives, but the security of these devices is something to be desired. Using the three suggestions above you.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet
Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.
Massive Data Breach
According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.
The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.
At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”
Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.
Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp
The Fall of Uber?
Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.
The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.
Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”
Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency
For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.
The Pirates Are At It Again
The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”
Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.
Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.
CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.
“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.
The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.
Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally
The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.
Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.
Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility
Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.
Ethereum Forges Higher Path
Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.
At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.
The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.
Fractured Bitcoin Community
Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.
Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.
Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.
Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.
Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist
Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.
In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.
The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.
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