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IoT and Open Source: Built-In Software Auto-Updates Could Make Devices More Secure

By Dick Weisinger

IoT devices are under attack. Many are old and use dated Open Source software that have known vulnerabilities. Once the devices are deployed, they are often forgotten, their software is seldom if ever updated, and they become easy targets for cyberattacks.

Loss of data through an IoT device breaches can pose a serious security risk.

Peder Jungck, VP at BAE systems, wrote in an article for LinkedIn saying that “underlying the bits of information conveying your requests is valuable Identity Information about your IoT devices. If we start thinking about a household as an enterprise, modern cyber security tells us we should understand our inventory and assess the vulnerabilities. If the clouds know our IoT Inventory it seems like some simple data analysis could tell a lot about our household enterprise’s IoT cyber health yielding incredible situational awareness.”

Han Zhang, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon, said that “vulnerable libraries lead to vulnerable devices, which threaten the overall security of users’ homes. We found that vendors update libraries very infrequently, and they use outdated—and often vulnerable—versions most of the time. If they fail to update, … the vulnerable libraries impose a huge threat to the home IoT environment.”

The team at Carnegie Mellon came up with a solution, a system that they’re calling ‘Capture’ which provides an accessible database of Open Source library updates that can be automatically searched and updated by devices when new software releases are made available. The idea is similar to the auto update feature used by browsers. If devices were to use an auto-update system, they could keep their software secure and up-to-date with the latest patches and releases. The Capture library tool also could offload the onus of software updates from vendors, who have been ignoring software updates anyway, but who are now coming under frequent fire as IoT cyberattack incidents grow in regularity.

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