IoT Device Popularity Poses Home Security Risk – Avast

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Research from Avast warns the rise in IoT devices puts homes at greater risk of cyber-attack

Modern households are at greater risk of cyber-attack thanks to the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

This is the conclusion of a new report from security specialist Avast, and Stanford University, which found that two thirds (66 percent) of homes in North America have some form of connected device.

To be fair security concerns surrounding IoT have been around for a long time now. Last month for example the British government proposed a new law to secure IoT devices with cyber security features.

Vulnerable devices

Avast’s report entitled “All Things Considered: An Analysis of IoT Devices on Home Networks” meanwhile found that globally, about 40 percent of households now contain at least one IoT device.

The findings come after Avast scanned 83 million IoT devices in 16 million homes worldwide to understand the distribution and security profile of IoT devices by type and manufacturer.

Research teams at Avast and Stanford University then validated and analysed the findings.

“The security community has long discussed the problems associated with emerging IoT devices,” said Zakir Durumeric, assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University.

“Unfortunately, these devices have remained hidden behind home routers and we’ve had little large-scale data on the types of devices deployed in actual homes,” said Durumeric. “This data helps us shed light on the global emergence of IoT and types of the security problems present in the devices real users own.”

So what else did the research reveal?

The research found that most IoT devices come from a small pool of manufacturers, when it discovered that 94 percent of all IoT devices are manufactured by just 100 vendors, despite their being over 14,000 IoT manufacturers worldwide.

The problem it seems is that a lot of these manufacturers are using obsolete protocols such as FTP and Telnet.

Indeed Avast’s research found that over 7 percent of all IoT devices still use these protocols, making them especially vulnerable.

The research was only made possible that to the data that users contributed when they used Avast’s Wi-Fi Inspector, which scans home networks for vulnerabilities and identifies potential security issues that open the door to threats.

“A key finding of this paper is that 94 percent of the home IoT devices were made by fewer than 100 vendors, and half are made by just ten vendors,” says Rajarshi Gupta, Head of AI at Avast. “This puts these manufacturers in a unique position to ensure that consumers have access to devices with strong privacy and security by design.”

Avast believes that these devices can be hardened to prevent unwanted access by bad actors.

The security vendor cited the fact that there is no reason for home routers for example to support Telnet in 2019. Yet, its research shows that surveillance devices and routers consistently support the protocol.

In March this year, security specialist Cyxtera Technologies warned that IoT devices are now under constant attack.

They detected more than 150 million connection attempts to 4,642 distinct IP addresses of IoT devices. And it seems that most of the attacks are stemming from China.

Last year nine out of ten Silicon UK readers told us they were concerned about the security of the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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