Have you ever thought about how each new smart device in your home is just one more way for you to get hacked?
Well, now you have. And cybersecurity experts warn that this risk is real. One reason is that lots of Internet-connected devices will run any computer software that anyone -- including a hacker -- asks it to.
So what's going to stop this potential madness? A supersecret code.
That's what Samsung and cybersecurity company Thales e-Security are offering in a new system for smart devices announced Wednesday at Samsung's developer conference. It's part of the Artik platform, which is essentially a computer system that manufacturers can plug into a refrigerator, for example, to give it computer smarts.
Now for the secret code. Using a complex math formula, Artik gives all the software running on your Internet-connected refrigerator a "birth certificate," as Jon Geater, CTO of Thales, describes it. This shows that the software came from a legitimate source. Hackers can't get permission for their software to run on the system, because they can't duplicate that digital identity.
The system will allow "a new generation of IoT products and applications to enter the market with enhanced privacy and security features critical for the broad array of products and services," Curtis Sasaki, vice president of ecosystems at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.
That could prevent all kinds of hacking headaches, from the mayhem of your connected audio system getting turned up to eleven to the theft of your credit card data from a connected laundry machine designed to order more laundry detergent when you're running out. It could also stop hackers from using an unsecured smart device to crawl into your home computer network.
"It's a nasty problem to solve," Geater said.
Samsung and Thales aren't the first to use this method. Smart industrial lighting company Enlighted, for example, secures its system by allowing only approved software to run. But if manufacturers snatch up Artik for their smart devices, the technique could find its way into a lot more consumer goods.