mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

From the editor's desk: The Internet of Bricks
17 May 2017, News

You’d be hard pressed to get through more than a few pages of this magazine without coming across the term IoT (Internet of Things), particularly as this particular issue features telecommunications and wireless technologies. As those of us in the electronics industry know, it’s nothing new for Things to be connected to the Internet, but then the marketing types went and latched onto the phrase as an engine to power a shiny new hype machine. What they’ve really done though is fashion a weapon to bludgeon the man in the street senseless, as there is still mass confusion about what exactly the IoT is, and what the implications are: Are there two separate Internets for People and for Things? Do I need a different service provider to access the Internet of Things than the regular Internet? If only it were that easy.

The history of the Internet is littered with examples of why people need to be cognisant of their cybersecurity, and the dangers of not being vigilant when using anything from a smartphone in the mall to a desktop computer in the office. While most of us have certainly become more savvy in this regard, breaches still occur daily, and the point was rammed home to the IoT market recently when a new malware called BrickerBot started doing the rounds.

BrickerBot is not the first or the only such threat to have been unleashed – it follows in the footsteps of the Mirai botnet that used Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to crash a number of networks last year. In Mirai’s case, the problem could typically be solved by rebooting the device in question (remote cameras and home routers were apparently its main targets) and immediately changing its login password. The hacker behind BrickerBot, who goes by the name The Janit0r, created it to be a far nastier beastie. It scans the web for devices using a default password and proceeds to wipe their memory, corrupt their storage, and disconnect them from the Internet, essentially rendering them as useless as a brick, hence its name.

With so many Internet-connected things nowadays, ranging from computers and smartphones to fridges and light bulbs, BrickerBot has no shortage of potential targets, and it has grown progressively more virulent. Version 1 attacked close to 2000 devices in its first four days, while version 3 took only 24 hours to achieve nearly 1400 infections. A fourth version has now been spotted in the wild, and only time will tell how aggressive it will prove to be. It’s one thing for a consumer gadget to be bricked, but imagine how much more costly the implications could be for a bank, or any business for that matter. In the case of something like an oil refinery or airport the consequences are potentially lethal.

In no way do I condone what amounts to Internet vigilantism, but I hope such attacks will prove to be the wake-up call the industry needs to take the problem more seriously. As a most basic measure, any device with an Internet interface could ship with such interface disabled until such time as the user activates it by registering the device with its manufacturer, similar to the way Microsoft handles Windows activations.

It could be made a prerequisite for activation that the password be changed to something that meets strict complexity criteria. Inconvenient? Certainly. Expensive for device manufacturers to implement and administer? Undoubtedly. Perhaps there’s even some reason I haven’t thought of that would make it totally unfeasible. Surely if some clever people out there put their minds to it they could come up with a more elegant solution, but anything would be better than the haphazard way IoT security has been treated up until now.

The virtual wall that protects the IoT from the trolls prowling outside is only as steadfast as the security that holds it together. A wall, without strong mortar, is nothing but a neat pile of bricks.

Brett van den Bosch

Editor


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Technews Publishing
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
Email: malckey@technews.co.za
www: www.technews.co.za
  Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • High-speed design expert completes SA seminar
    15 November 2017, EDA Technologies, News
    Internationally renowned expert Lee Ritchey returned to South Africa in October to present a course on high-speed printed circuit board (PCB) design. This follows a similar visit in March last year, ...
  • Electronics news digest
    15 November 2017, News
    South Africa • The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) hosted the inaugural Fifth Generation (5G) forum meeting from 1-2 November 2017 in Sandton. It stressed to the public that ...
  • Eskom Expo rewards young scientists
    15 November 2017, News
    The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) 2017 recognised some of the exceptional projects on display at an awards ceremony held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg.
  • Technology enablers towards connected and autonomous driving
    15 November 2017, Concilium Technologies, News
    The connected car is already here in many ways with advanced telematics becoming more and more available on a wide range of vehicles, ADAS and V2X almost a reality.
  • From the editor's desk: Smart cities promise local opportunities
    15 November 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear or read something about smart cities. Perhaps I’m only noticing it more because I’ve been doing some research into the topic and so it’s top of my mind. By nature ...
  • Win Microchip’s new in-circuit debugger
    15 November 2017, News
    Dataweek is offering its readers a chance to win a Microchip MPLAB ICD 4 in-circuit debugger. The new debugger introduces a faster processor and increased RAM to deliver up to twice the speed of ICD 3 ...
  • Wits researchers demonstrate quantum teleportation of light
    15 November 2017, News, Electronics Technology
    Quantum communication over long distances is seen as the future of information security and has been demonstrated in free space and fibre with two-dimensional states, recently over distances exceeding ...
  • Appointment
    15 November 2017, Uniross Batteries, News
    Jason Finney has been appointed to a sales position at Uniross Batteries.   
  • Electronics news digest
    11 October 2017, News
    South Africa • ICASA councillor and acting chairperson, Rubben Mohlaloga, has ended his term on the communications regulator’s council, following a more than one year stint in the acting chairperson ...
  • Arrow Altech appoints new sales GM
    11 October 2017, Arrow Altech Distribution (AAD), News
    Renato Martins has worked in the electronics industry since 1994, earning valuable work experience through various positions at BMS, Logitech SA and Mimic SA before joining AAD.
  • From the chairman’s desk: Q3 in South Africa
    11 October 2017, AREI, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    Warren Muir, chairman of AREI, provides an update on how the local electronics sector is doing, and some of the Association’s latest happenings.
  • From the Editor's desk: The cyborgs are coming, and they are us
    11 October 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    Many of the most exciting and life-improving developments in electronics are happening on the biomedical and cybernetics fronts, but they also have the potential to be truly terrifying. Consider the ...

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.