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Baby monitor hack highlights manufacturers' security shortfalls

Antone Gonsalves | Aug. 16, 2013
In addition to lax passwords, manufacturer lacks a effective way to get its patches and updates out to customers.

The reason is a lack of awareness about the implications of poor security, experts say. At the same time, manufacturers are rushing to get products on the Internet in order to offer unique services, a trend often referred to as the "Internet of Things."

"On the one level this is a gee-whiz wonderful technological advance, but as often is the case not enough thought has been given to privacy implications of the technology or some of the security implications," said John M. Simpson, director of the privacy project for Consumer Watchdog.

Consumer electronics companies, as well as many other hardware manufacturers, "very rarely" consider security at the design process, said Matthew Neely, director of research and development for consulting company SecureState.

"A lot of these companies just don't think about (security) when they release a product," Neely said. "They want to get it out the door quick and cheap."

Manufacturers have gotten away with shoddy security because customers have yet to make it a feature they look for when buying a product.

"I thinks it's going to take a few more incidents like this to wake people up," Simpson said.

In the meantime, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans to hold a public workshop in November in Washington, D.C., to discuss privacy and security issues from the growing number of Internet-connected cars, appliances and medical devices.


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