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CEDIA 2017 Keynote Preview: Privacy and Security – Big Challenges for the IoT

Ed Wenck
Jul 05, 2017

(Pictured: CEDIA 2017 Keynote speaker Dave Evans)

In October of last year, Motherboard magazine interviewed a gent who had the fastest residential internet in the U.S.: Radiologist James Busch, who needs to look at X-rays and mammograms and all manner of medical images. The speed in his place? 10Gbps.

Busch is paying close to $300 per month to work at home while his kids can watch Netflix without getting frustrated.

Yep – James’ joint makes the rest of us look like we’re dialing up AOL in 1998. But don’t fret – the availability of high-speeds-for-all will soon arc upward dramatically, and we’ll be in the magic place where every surface inch of a 1500-square-foot dwelling will be sensorized (the estimate for that is 16Gbps).

That future will be awesome – and kind of scary. As we’ve said many times, anything that can be hacked, will be hacked.

And how comfortable are you going to be knowing that you’re mic’d up and on camera 24/7, 365?

Operator Error

“To me, security and privacy are two sides of the same coin. If you erode one of them, you compromise the other one,” says Dave Evans. Evans, co-founder of Stringify and formerly tasked with looking into the future for Cisco, will be a keynote speaker at CEDIA 2017.

Evans notes that people often blame technology for their lack of security – but that’s a bit unfair.

“It's akin to someone leaving their home and leaving their front door unlocked,” he explains. That’s precisely what happened in a huge DDOS attack in late 2016, and cameras-turned-culprits were responsibly for a lot of the requests that overloaded servers.


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“All of these cameras were hacked, and it was a big IoT botnet attack,” says Evans – and the cameras were vulnerable because their default passwords were left unchanged: “They left it, User Name: Admin, Password: Password.”

“So part of [the solution] is education, but part of it is also that we've got to be all accountable, all responsible. If you leave your home, and you leave your front door unlocked, and someone breaks into your home -- that's kind of on you. The same is true with IoT technology; you have to secure it properly, you've got to get the right firewalls or security, and so on.”

“And I think therein lies the opportunity for CEDIA, because the average consumer doesn't know what to do -- but they want security.”

“But if you have expertise and you can say, ‘Look, I can come in, and as much as the technology will allow me to do, I will make your home secure; I will make sure that you don't have silly passwords, I'll make sure that your network is set up correctly, I'll make sure that you've got a firewall in place, I'll make sure you've got products installed in your home that monitor for malicious traffic.’

“Those are service offerings that CEDIA members could offer.”

History for Sale

Here’s where Evans bristles a bit: “That's one piece of the question. The other piece is government  -- and, frankly, I don't have an answer for that one.” Evans – like many others – was particularly alarmed when the federal government began the process of allowing ISPs to sell a user’s browsing history, no questions asked.

Evans noted that he’d gone to Twitter to quote Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web: “He had said the ability to sell your ISP browsing history is quote-unquote 'Disgusting.'”

So what to do about it? A quick email to Mike Maniscalco, longtime CEDIA volunteer, co-founder of Ihiji, and frequent instructor of CEDIA’s Advanced Networking Boot Camp was in order. The specific question: Is a virtual private network (VPN) the answer? And is this a potential revenue stream for integrators?

Mike replies: “I think VPN has always been a good option for anyone wanting to encrypt their web traffic. It's been a common practice for those who travel overseas and also for those who live in countries who have censored the internet.”

“There is a business opportunity for the CEDIA HTP but I think the big question is do the consumers care enough to make it a worthwhile service offering?  Right now the biggest opportunity for integrators is to be educated on the topic so that they can talk accurately and confidently about the topic with clients who have questions or concerns.”

On this topic, Evans wants those concerned to vote with their – well, votes. “I mean there is no magical answer other than to use the system to say, ‘Look, this is not acceptable. We're not going to allow 1984 to happen. There's no technological magic bullet for this other than to secure yourself as well as you can.

“It's a challenge from a political perspective -- I will acknowledge that.”

 

 

 


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CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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