Thursday, August 13, 2015
Hacking SMART services in Cars, Homes, and Medical Devices – a cinch!
Businesses are reinventing themselves by transforming traditional services and service delivery into digital services. Digital services utilize smart products to provide enhanced service quality, additional features and to collect data that can be used to improve performance. Smart products can be remotely controlled using Wi-Fi or cellular connections, software, sensors that makes smart dumb devices, cloud infrastructure and mobiles.Examples of digital products and services are network connected cars, home appliances, surveillance systems, wearables, medical devices, rifles and so on. Very recently ethical hackers exploited a software glitch that allowed them to take control of a Jeep Cherokee while on the road and drive it into a ditch. All this with the hapless driver at the wheel!
While the car hack made headlines and led to the recall of 1.4 m vehicles, it also signaled the beginning of an era where cyber-attacks or software glitches cause physically harm to cyber citizens, blurring the lines between safety and security. Cyber-attacks in the near future will do a lot more damage than destroy reputations, steal money or spy on intimate moments people would prefer to keep private, it may maim or kill in a targeted or random fashion and that too in the privacy of one’s own home.The severity of some of the demonstrated exploits by ethical hackers were downplayed because the attacker required physical access to the vehicle to execute the attack. I for one, do not know what happens to my vehicle while it is serviced or valet parked, both ideal opportunities to fiddle with the electronic systems and even modify the firmware.
All smart devices will be connected and updatable over wireless networks. Wireless updates are ideal opportunities for hackers to obtain access or control over these devices. However, digital products or services must have built in defenses not only for over the air hacks but equally on risks from technicians, mechanics or others that have physical access to the smart infrastructure.Startups with limited budgets may struggle to provide adequate security to their new incubations, allowing ample opportunity for maliciously minded individuals and cyber criminals to find ways to compromise the service. Investment in smart product security will be driven by liabilities around safety regulations, compliance and strict penal provisions.