Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Pepper and Dark Cubed raise security fears over connected household devices

Steve Rogerson
January 31, 2019



IoT platform and service provider Pepper and Dark Cubed, a cyber-security specialist for small and midsized companies, have joined forces to raise awareness about security and privacy vulnerabilities plaguing household connected or smart devices.
 
The partnership between the two US companies aims to help IoT stakeholders ensure the protection of the consumers they serve.
 
The first partnership initiative is the formal release of a state of IoT security report, which shines a light on systemic security and privacy issues that were discovered through testing consumer smart home devices readily available from major retailers across the USA.
 
For the report, Dark Cubed experts tested and analysed the security and the data communications of a cross section of consumer IoT devices. Unlike other IoT security tests that attempt to hack the device, this test monitored and captured these devices operating as designed and developed by the vendors, and revealed several anomalies and unexplained communications.
 
The report includes the security posture of nine IoT devices and applications to help retailers make informed choices that protect their customers.
 
Key findings of the report include:

  • Device security is important, but the platform is much more critical: Connected devices require a sophisticated networked platform to manage communications, protect data, identify and patch vulnerabilities, and deliver a quality experience. Many (potentially most) consumer-connected devices available in US retail today are managed by offshore platforms that have no motivation to protect user data or ensure high security standards.
  • Patching will not fix systemic problems: Devices that are insecure from the moment they were installed have the potential to do immediate damage. These devices must be secure from day one to ensure protection of consumer data.
  • The market must make security a priority: Several of the devices reviewed were painfully insecure, showing that neither the manufacturer nor its platform provider addressed security. These devices leak sensitive consumer data and open direct lines of communication to servers in countries of concern.
"If we do not address the problem of insecure consumer IoT devices and the lack of respect for consumer privacy soon, it is going to be too late,” said Vince Crisler, CEO of Dark Cubed. “Just because the space is complex and rapidly developing is not an excuse for retailers and regulators to turn a blind eye. In fact, the opposite is true. Retailers must consider security as a part of their buying processes and government must consider regulations that focus on consumer protections. We are passionate about these issues and excited to work with Pepper IoT in leading change."
 
Scott Ford, CEO at Pepper IoT, added: "Just as retailers wouldn't sell unsafe toys, tainted lettuce or products with toxic chemicals, they have a responsibility to sell safe and secure IoT devices to consumers. We are highly motivated to partner with Dark Cubed. The report highlighted some of the key problems in the IoT market that we are solving. We are committed to working with major retailers and device manufacturers to leverage our trusted US-based platform for secure and private consumer IoT management."
 
Dark Cubed is a Virginia-based company in the cyber-security market with a focus on small and midsized companies. The company offers a scalable software-as-a-service platform to deliver enterprise-grade security capabilities.
 
Pepper IoT is an independent, multi-tenant IoT platform delivering full-stack and turnkey consumer-focused connectivity to consumer electronics manufacturers, brands and service providers. It is a venture capital backed Kansas City-based company.