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The Internet of Things Casts Shadows

June 20th 2014

However, last month America giant General Electric announced it had completed a deal to buy Wurldtech, a Vancouver-based cyber-security firm that protects big industrial sites like refineries and power plants from cyber attacks.

GE says part of the motivation for the deal was to protect sensor networks increasingly being built into these systems from attack, but Wurldtech provides a broader security solution that protects important infrastructure like industrial grids and oil refineries from a variety of computer attacks.

As these systems become much more intelligent, using software and sensors to help operators run them more efficiently, GE realized there was an Internet of Things security angle here as well.

This could be a canny investment.  As the Internet of Things gains ground, more of our lives will be reliant on these systems working.  Security is a constant battle – and those firms in this area are set to do well for investors.

As another example of where it can go wrong, the news that a while ago Nokia was secretly held to ransom over a digital certificate should raise alarm bells in organisations with aspirations to connect their products.

MTV in Finland has reported that in 2007 a blackmailer gained access to a Symbian encryption key used for signing Nokia certified applications.  Nokia paid the blackmailer millions of pounds to prevent the key being released, according to the broadcaster.

Modern consumer electronics such as smart TVs and games consoles offer consumers a way to keep the device up to date, with internet-distributed firmware updates.  These rely on digital certificates to prevent malware being applied.

And it goes deeper.  In 2012 US multinational energy firm Chevron has revealed that it was hit by the Stuxnet virus, widely believed to have been launched by the US and Israel to spy on and disrupt Iran's nuclear facilities.

So next time you watch your smart TV, be sure it’s not watching you too.

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