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Risk

2/21/2011
06:19 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Security Coming To Mobile And Embedded Devices

Security firm McAfee expects 50 billion mobile and connected embedded devices by the year 2020. And guess who is promoting new tools promising to protect them. But is this a layer of protection we are going to need?

Security firm McAfee expects 50 billion mobile and connected embedded devices by the year 2020. And guess who is promoting new tools promising to protect them. But is this a layer of protection we are going to need?Based on recent events, I'd have the say the answer is a resounding "Yes."

Last year we were introduced to Stuxnet, which proved that SCADA systems and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are viable targets for worms and viruses. We've seen a number of Trojans and other forms of malware aimed at smart phones, and even a new attack that can pull cryptography keys directly from mobile device signals.

Then there's the story that broke just last week about the ATM machine that was programmed to give cash away. From NBC Chicago:

Authorities said Thursday that more than $140,000 has been stolen since December of 2010 from private cash machines installed by Maryland-based ATM Systems.

The thieves used special codes to reprogram the machines to spit out more money than they should during a single transaction.

We are going to have the same types of threats targeting mobile and embedded devices, clearly. Which is why it's not a big surprise to see security software maker McAfee and Wind River (Intel properties, both) announce plans to integrate some of McAfee's software with Wind River's mobile and embedded device software, such as those used in ATMs and SCADA systems.

Kelly Jackson Higgins at Dark Reading covered the partnership, made public at last week's RSA Conference 2011:

The first products from the development initiative are planned for the second half of the year, initially with McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) security management agent added to Wind River's software. "We'll do reporting and compliance and whitelisting," said Dave DeWalt, president and CEO of McAfee. Network access control, DLP, and host intrusion prevention also will be integrated into Wind River's software over time, he said.

Ken Klein, president of Wind River, which was acquired by Intel in 2009, says the booming number of connected devices need to be secured. "This is purpose-driven protection for all layers of the stack" that specifically addresses the power and performance constraints under which these devices must operate, he said. The companies will integrate their sales, support, and joint marketing efforts for the new product line.

Expect to see, in the coming months and years, much more news on securing the extended Internet of embedded and mobile devices.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter as @georgevhulme.

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