Blog Post

Mobile Security and the Internet of Things

The dawning age of the “Internet of things” will see connectivity come to a wide variety of gadgets and services. Of course, that surge of new devices will usher in an unpredented wave of security concerns. But as I write in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, that means big opportunities for vendors of mobile security who have yet to see huge demand for their smartphone offerings.

Security concerns are nothing new to mobile, thanks largely to FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) s0wn by vendors hawking security wares. But even the most dangerous mobile security threats thus far have been fairly innocuous in scale, from the earliest Symbian worms to “the budding dark side” of smartphone applications.

But we’re beginning to see the emergence of connected devices other than smartphones that present a higher set of risks when it comes to being hacked, and therefore call for iron-clad security measures.

For instance, last week, researchers from Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina demonstrated that wireless tire pressure monitors — which have been mandatory for new cars sold in the U.S. for the last two years — can be hacked. That study mirrored a similar effort from a few months ago that proved electronic control units themselves can be easily broken into, giving potential hackers access to a number of horrifying functions, from turning on windshield wipers to virtually punching the accelerator. The coming wave of connected healthcare gadgets and smart grid systems is sure to attract attention from hackers.

Those threats also present limitless opportunities for developers of mobile security who’ve been trying to put out fires that barely exist in today’s wireless world. Taking advantage of those opportunities will require different strategies, of course, but for forward-thinking players in the mobile-security game, it’s time to check out the world of M2M and stop crying “Wolf!” every time a questionable piece of malware makes its way onto a smartphone.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy Flickr user dheuer.

2 Responses to “Mobile Security and the Internet of Things”

  1. Hmmm…

    I think what they found was that the ID code embedded in the encoded transmission from the sensor to the car’s control unit could be captured. This could be used to track an individual vehicle with roadside sensors or, by feeding the control unit fake low pressure messages, cause an erroneous low pressure alert. It was postulated that a car’s control unit could be overloaded or even caused to fail with too many messages or one’s with nonsensical pressure values. I’m not sure where all the talk about car’s being taken over by their tire pressure sensors came about, but even the modest interferences would require a great deal of effort and expense.

    Still, the point of this article is valid, if the example isn’t.