Making physical security secure: next-level cybersecurity

Glenn Foot from Eaton Security on ensuring your smart products are well-protected from cybersecurity threats…

The days when compact mobile devices were simply for making phone calls seem like ancient history. Even the most basic modern smartphone now offers always-on internet connectivity that enables users to control more and more aspects of their lives or work at the tap (or swipe) of a screen.

It means that from managing domestic or workplace heating through to lighting and other applications, there’s no end to the possibilities offered by smartphones and other tools such as tablets. It’s fast, accessible and increasingly easy-to-use technology that has a big appeal.

A smart product – cybersecurity threats

No surprise then that ABI Research projects that the global sensor and device market for home security and automation will grow to $4bn by 2021. Meanwhile, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the global smart buildings market overall is forecast to be 19.1% from 2019 to 2025.

What’s clear is that the march towards smart home security specifically is fast accelerating. Research by IKS Markit points to the balance tipping in favour of professionally monitored smart systems over non-connected, traditionally monitored solutions by 2023. The same report projects 7% global penetration of smart home security by 2025.

So, if smart security adds up to a huge commercial opportunity, what are the challenges that come with it?

Cyber protection – risks are multiplying

Hardly a day goes by without breached networks and hacked devices making the news.

The motives and methods are many and varied. And cases range from those involving highly skilled criminals targeting corporate and personal data to help them commit fraud, through to malicious geek vandals on a mission purely to disrupt. Insider threats from those already given passwords and other access privileges are risks that also need to be considered.

From Facebook to Google, the tech giants themselves are having to throw an enormous amount of time and resources at a rapidly escalating cybersecurity problem around their own networks. Security is a challenge that’s even being said to threaten free elections worldwide – and the democratic process itself.

Drill down further and Kaspersky Lab figures show that in 2018 the company picked up three times as many malware samples attacking IoT devices as in the whole of 2017. The connected tech on which smart home security depends – such as webcams, CCTV, digital video recorders (DVRs), smart meters and routers – is in the crosshairs of more cyber attacks year on year. In fact the CUJO AI Threat Intelligence Database 2018 Q4, as reported by the World Economic Forum, placed alarm systems number two in its top ten of home automation devices subject to attack attempts.

The threat outlook generally is worrying. McAfee, another major player in cybersecurity, pronounced 2019 as the year of ‘everywhere malware’ as backdoors, fake apps and banking trojans exploit users and devices – including massively popular digital assistants such as Alexa and similar.

What’s driving IoT vulnerability?

The harsh reality is that many internet-connected devices ship with weaknesses. These range from obvious passwords that are hard to change, through to their potential to be recruited into a botnet that can mount distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on a massive scale. Certainly, making an IoT device as cheap as possible by failing to invest in the code needed is simply not conducive to security – a problem the current IoT stampede to market has made all too inevitable.

So while there’s no doubt that end users have their own responsibility for matters within their control, such as changeable router passwords and firewalls, both manufacturers and those that install their products find themselves on the frontline of the security battle.

SecureConnect™: built with cybersecurity in its DNA   

Robust, IP-enabled security systems such as Eaton SecureConnectare a vital element of the smart homes trend.

What makes SecureConnectdifferent is that it draws on more than 40 years of security expertise through Eaton’s market-leading brand Scantronic to offer unrivalled levels of security integrity throughout the cameras, sensors, panels and cloud management software that drive it. Currently available on four i-on platform Scantronic alarm panels – and extending to seven panels later in 2019 – it’s a solution designed with security baked into its DNA from the outset.

Above all, rigorous testing at Eaton’s Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in the USA and the use of best-in-class datacentres make SecureConnect uniquely placed.

Class-leading protection that delivers for both installers and end users

For the installer, SecureConnectoffers easy installation plus secure remote maintenance and configuration from any internet browser – reducing the need for on-site visits, cutting costs and boosting productivity, while maintaining high levels of protection and customer service. End-user access can likewise be securely enabled or disabled. Critically, no in-depth retraining, upskilling or reconfiguration of customer IT systems are required.

For the user, Eaton’s cloud-connected solution offers the peace of mind of easy remote control and monitoring via a simple app, that uses device (fingerprint, face recognition) authentication combined with application-specific security measures.  Homeowners and property managers can verify events on their premises through high-quality images and receive real-time notifications. They can also securely set, unset and part-alarm from anywhere in the world – as well as check systems status.

The rapid take up of convenient IP-connected security solutions presents big opportunities for forward-thinking professional installers, as well as others in the security and fire safety sector. As end-user expectations evolve alongside ever-more powerful technology, security will remain top of the agenda as Eaton’s easy-to-use, smart products play an increasingly important role in its residential and business security solutions.

Find out more about Eaton’s approach to cybersecurity.