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Q&A: Irdeto’s Jim Phillipoff talks smart home security

Jim Phillipoff, Head of Business Development, Media & Entertainment, Irdeto, discusses the security threats around smart home technology and opportunities for service providers.

What are the main security threats facing consumers in relation to smart home devices?
The enormous scope of opportunities provided by connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) are still being explored. Consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on the convenience and customization allowed by connectivity today and there are also many benefits and opportunities for businesses themselves to take advantage of when it comes to IoT. However, on the flipside, the proliferation of IoT devices has provided hackers with unprecedented vulnerabilities, if these devices are not properly secured.

Many consumers are aware of the risks, with a 2018 survey conducted by Microsoft Market Intelligence highlighting concerns consumers have about digital assistants finding that the top concern was that “personal information or data is not secure.” Digital assistants, like any connected device in the home, should be evaluated from a security perspective as well as just functionality and price.  Hackers may well target digital assistants more than most other devices since they can function as a “hub” which will likely control other elements the home network – the same situation applies to the router as the gateway to the home network.

Where does responsibility for securing IoT devices and the smart home lie – with the service provider, device manufacturer or consumer?
Since there are so many device manufacturers, service providers have an opportunity to offer consumers a solution for the whole home. In fact, there’s a good deal of research which shows that consumers are willing to pay to protect their privacy and data – research from Blackberry earlier this year found that 58% of consumers would be willing to pay more for connected devices, if they know their data and privacy is protected. By providing a security and Wi-Fi management service that consumers really want, CSPs (communication service providers) can increase ARPU and decrease key costs.

Certainly, consumers and service providers cannot rely on IoT device manufacturers for peace of mind and security of their network, and while there is some responsibility for the service provider when it comes to the router, the CSP often doesn’t have visibility and device intel beyond the gateway to tackle these concerns.

What do service providers need to think about in securing smart home services, both in relation to their customers’ needs and current and future legislation?
In addition to the increase in security vulnerabilities brought about by the proliferation of IoT devices, there are challenges for CSPs and consumers alike around control of the smart home. When subscribers encounter a security or connectivity issue, they turn to their broadband provider for help, but the CSP doesn’t have visibility and device intel beyond the gateway to tackle these concerns. CSPs therefore require the tools to address connectivity and security problems more efficiently while offering value added services to consumers. In terms of legislation, things are still in their infancy, but the new IoT device labelling system included in the UK government’s recent consultation is a good step. Providers should look at the problems caused by the smart home revolution as a growth opportunity which has the potential to help them achieve their key business objectives.

What role can technology providers such as Irdeto play in securing the smart home?
To address these challenges, Irdeto has launched Trusted Home which enables CSPs to secure the entire smart home, including the router itself, increase ARPU by offering value added services to consumers and decrease call center volumes and truck rolls. Developed in collaboration with Minim, a provider of AI-driven Wi-Fi management and IoT security platforms for service providers, Trusted Home is designed to provide the visibility and intelligence across the network to enable CSPs and consumers to address security and connectivity issues throughout the entire network.

Trusted Home offers an Android and iOS app with AI-driven self-setup, self-care and security guidance. CSPs can white-label this app or integrate into their existing consumer-facing apps. The solution also offers Wi-Fi management capabilities and comes with the Irdeto Care Portal, which gives customer support staff vital visibility to effectively troubleshoot top call issues, reducing time to resolution.

What role can Artificial Intelligence play in helping protect against threats?
Artificial intelligence can be a crucial tool in detecting threats and behavioral anomalies in the smart home in real-time. Trusted Home applies proprietary fingerprinting technology without compromising consumer privacy with practices such as Deep Packet Inspection. Through this automated recognition and anomaly detection, the solution highlights known vulnerabilities, suggests actions against threats, and even addresses connectivity issues.

For more information please visit: www.irdeto.com/video-entertainment/smart-home-security-wifi-management

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