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Cebit: ​Microsoft warns of chilling fridge hacking threat as Internet of Things booms

Microsoft chief says IoT needs its own security policy
Tue Mar 11 2014, 14:28
Food in fridge

HANOVER: EVERYTHING from cars to refrigerators will present security threats as the Internet of Things (IoT) puts more devices online, according to Microsoft's European security chief.

Cyber criminals will shift attacks away from businesses and instead begin to look at everyday devices, said Jan Neutze, Microsoft director of cyber security policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in a keynote speech at Cebit attended by The INQUIRER.

"With autonomous systems comes the question: all this data that's generated, who owns this data and how is that data controlled? Many of those questions aren't fully resolved," he added.

"What happens when somebody attacks your refrigerator? Who's going to patch your fridge? Is it the energy company that runs your smart grid, is it the software company, is it the manufacturer of the device? We're going to have to look at new models of collaboration that have never existed before."

Concerns about the threats facing a completely connected world have been raised before, with lightbulbs also seen as another point of attack. Some have questioned whether software systems can handle all the data that will be created.

Despite these concerns governments are keen to push development for the Internet of Things, with prime minister David Cameron having spoken at Cebit earlier in the week to announce a further £45m of funding for research.

On the topic of government surveillance, a key concern for many businesses and consumers, Neutze said that the dialogue between the information technology industry and governments was moving slowly. The debate on the issue has been a hot topic since the NSA revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden last summer, with technology firms criticising prying governments and patching their newly discovered security holes.

Neutze said, "I used to work at the United Nations in New York and I can tell you with certainty that the dialogue is not happening at a pace that is required. What we need is a global dialogue.

"Governments are users just like all of us, and they have traditionally been the protectors of cyberspace. But is also becoming very evident that governments are the exploiters of cyberspace. As an industry we are thinking very hard [about] how we can protect users from a technical side by doing a number of things with encryption. We do need a much more robust dialogue on the policy side."

Neutze's comments come as European governments also look to speed up the process of creating a more robust set of security principles to give businesses and consumers confidence that their data will remain secure.

On Monday evening Edward Snowden urged the technology sector to take the lead on the issues his leaks have raised, arguing that technical professionals have more capabilities to resolve the issues than politicians and government bureaucrats. µ


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