back to article We need to know about the Internet of Things, say US Senators

As US lawmakers call on the Government Accountability Office to assess the world of the Internet of Things, Eugene Kaspersky has unloaded on the thingification of home appliances. A bipartisan group of US Senators (Brian Schatz and Cory Booker for the Democrats, Deb Fischer and Kelly Ayotte for the Republicans) released the …

  1. ratfox
    Terminator

    Damn.

    The meatsacks suspect something.

    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Terminator

      Re: Damn.

      There is no cause for alarm. The Two Plus One Trio* will ensure they are given the proper guidance and those who doubt the word of their masters will be given... proper guidance.

      There is no penalty for those who still do not wish to participate, they will be granted an alternative opportunity to generously contribute to society, in whole or in parts. There is a bit of rebel in all of us.

      * Two listed as 'female' (Siri and Cortana) and one (Ohkegugle) who refused to tell us, citing privacy concerns.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wide open

    "..and he's also interested in the smart watch as a source of citizen health data that could be obtained and misused by criminals."

    Uh, yah. As a web criminal, I would really want to get my mitts on all that juicy heart rate data, yeahboy!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wide open

      Don't think of it as health data, think of it as an indicator of excitement for your products.

  3. Robert Helpmann??
    Childcatcher

    Whether or Not

    ...what agencies have IoT plans or strategies...

    The plan is to never allow any of it on government property if anyone in the security community has a say in it. The US government has had its data stolen many times, but there ought to be a sporting challenge to doing so.

  4. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Smart TV

    It is getting difficult to NOT buy a "smart" TV, if you want a TV big enough for comfortable living room viewing... At least the one I recently bought to replace a 20-year old tube set has no built-in WLAN interface (a bit old model), so I can reliably cut the connection.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Smart TV

      Just don't connect the smart bit up to the interwebs.

      That will work until the on board Wi-Fi gets smart enough to find an unlocked network somewhere in the vicinity to the TV then all bets are lost.

      My so called Smart TV complains everytime I switch it on that it can't connect to the MotherShip 'for vital security updates'. If it ain't connected to the network then why does it need those oh so important updates.

      However, this is the tip of the iceberg. I am sure that it won't be long before that new toaster insists on an internet connection so that it can report the number of slices passed through the machine on every second and just stop working when the mothership says so.

      Or even worse, insist on verifying that the owner at a certain GPS location has a license to use the device. move house and you pay again. (see icon)

      It is a Toaster for crying out loud!

      but I am sure that you can grasp the way I see things evolving in the world of connected domestic appliances.

      Better stat buying those dumb devices right now.

      1. VinceH

        Re: Smart TV

        "My so called Smart TV complains everytime I switch it on that it can't connect to the MotherShip 'for vital security updates'. If it ain't connected to the network then why does it need those oh so important updates."

        If there isn't an option to disable checking, I'd be inclined to take it back and complain that it is a [design] fault.

        "However, this is the tip of the iceberg."

        Quite. While Joe Public keeps lapping up all this crap, it's just going to get worse for those of us who can see the potential problems and therefore don't want it.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Smart TV

        "If it ain't connected to the network then why does it need those oh so important updates."

        For that matter, if it's not connected to an external network, how does it know there are " vital security updates" in the first place?

        1. gerdesj Silver badge

          Re: Smart TV

          "For that matter, if it's not connected to an external network, how does it know there are " vital security updates" in the first place?"

          It will still be connected to an external network: where do you think the pretty pictures and sound come from? Not all the bandwidth consumed by digital TV is content, some of it is guide data, Red Button stuff and other things like update signals.

          Best wrap the telly with lots of aluminium foil and keep it in a Faraday cage, to be on the safe side 8)

          1. Graham Marsden
            Coat

            Re: Smart TV

            > It is a Toaster for crying out loud!

            Howdy doodly doo!

          2. MacroRodent Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Smart TV

            It will still be connected to an external network: where do you think the pretty pictures and sound come from?

            But over-the-air TV broadcasts, whether analogue or digital, are one-way only. Hard to spy on you that way. Of course it is likely that at some point in the future it will be decided that OTA broadcasts are redundant, because most people watch TV only over the Internet, and the bandwidth is repurposed for cellular networks. Then indeed it is time for the privacy-conscious to throw out their TV:s...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Smart TV

              "But over-the-air TV broadcasts, whether analogue or digital, are one-way only. Hard to spy on you that way. Of course it is likely that at some point in the future it will be decided that OTA broadcasts are redundant, because most people watch TV only over the Internet, and the bandwidth is repurposed for cellular networks. Then indeed it is time for the privacy-conscious to throw out their TV:s..."

              That's just the receiving end. They can transmit secretly on directions from secret stations outside, usually when you're sleeping and using whitespace frequencies.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Smart TV

            "Best wrap the telly with lots of aluminium foil and keep it in a Faraday cage, to be on the safe side 8)"

            And how do you stop the thing getting secret data off the mains lines the thing requires to operate? I once considered a filter or UPS but they can probably condition the signals to pass through them, too...

          4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Smart TV

            "It will still be connected to an external network: where do you think the pretty pictures and sound come from? Not all the bandwidth consumed by digital TV is content, some of it is guide data, Red Button stuff and other things like update signals."

            You make a good point. In theory an update message could be broadcast across Freeview, FreeSat, Sky or VM Cable. But has that ever been done? Sky and VM Cable boxes get updates from the mothership, as do some Freeview boxes but I don't recall any TV manufacturers doing so, at least not for firmware/OS updates. Has anyone seen this in the wild?

            1. JCitizen
              Coffee/keyboard

              Re: Smart TV

              Anything capable of 1080p HDTV viewing has gobs of IAA hardware spy equipment built into it as a requirement for the cable industry for MPAA guidelines. Now for those of you enjoying over the air broadcasts, you would theoretically not be sending anything out, but the minute you plug another device into an HDMI port in the smart TV, I guarantee the MPAA is going to want to know about it. I'd wager there is some kind of broadcast ability for most HDTV sets built after 2008. Mine was built in 2007, but it still reboots the whole TV every time my cable box DVR comes on. That is part of the hardware requirements to attempt to foil anyone trying to copy content in the high definition DRM standard.

              You may notice audio and visual artifacts and/or strange behavior depending on how many devices you have plugged into your HDMI ports. The MPAA is the all seeing eye - and you can bet they have a network of spying that makes all the government spy agencies of the world green with envy! I also suspect many bad actors, both nation state and corporate, that have cracked the system DRM uses to track content usage. I'd wager they have an entire other dark net setup on it, as well. If the spy transmission radio is not in the TV, it will arrive in the blu-ray player, or the home theater high definition amplifier/receiver, etc, etc.

      3. Fungus Bob

        Re: Smart TV

        Here's the toaster for you. Cordless too!

        http://preparednessadvice.com/cooking/toasting-bread-old-fashioned-way/#.VYxcbDtQh7k

  5. Mike Bell

    Time for a rename

    TV > Telescreen

  6. Nigel 11

    That will work until the on board Wi-Fi gets smart enough to find an unlocked network somewhere in the vicinity to the TV then all bets are lost.

    I hadn't thought of that horrible possibility. (that the malign "they" will start putting unsecured base stations out there for thingies to connect to, in case we are unkind enough to refuse to connect them to our own broadbands. Stealthed base stations with source filters, so most of the world that isn't a thingie will remain unaware of their existence ... )

    I guess we'll have to open up our TVs, locate the wifi aerial, and remove or mangle it, and hope that the TV still works as a TV. But by then they'll have stopped broadcasting in favour of internet. Oh dear. The Vingean nightmare of civilisational death by omnipresent surveillance looks to be happening a lot faster than I'd hoped.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contrasts

    Anybody else bemused by the contrast between the capabilities of the NSA and the defences of government departments against web attack?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Contrasts

      Definitely.. along with the zombie CongressCritters that either overreact for soundbites on the news, or are totally clueless even when the stuff is explained to them. Oh wait... is not "either", they do both.. overreact while being clueless...

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: Contrasts

      "Anybody else bemused by the contrast between the capabilities of the NSA and the defences of government departments against web attack?"

      Not really. It seems to go hand in hand that the part that wants to pry would encourage an inability to deny in the rest of the system.

      Or do you think it's just a coincidence that when a member of Congress jumps up and claims that's what's happening is an outrage, almost always the follow up is a quiet, "Well, that's all right then, new funding approved."

  8. FozzyBear
    Angel

    I am predicting in the near future

    The next person that goes on a shooting spree and blames their toaster, 'cause god was speaking through it. Instead of showing them their nice new fashion accessory, a nice white jacket where the extra-long sleeves wrap around the waist, the investigating authorities will have dozens of forensic experts tearing their house apart.

    That will set the paranoia levels to 11

  9. Graham Marsden
  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You want to know about the Internet of Things? Quite simply, privacy and secrecy will ultimately be doomed, as they only have to be lucky once. Transceiver equipment is getting so small and compact that soon they'll be able to hide them anywhere: even inside a person or within a necessary piece of lead or other x-ray-beating stuff. Think a device embedded in a skull under the guise of (and employing as an antenna) a metal plate planted under the alibi of a skiing accident or something. They can act passively and only spill their contents on coded signal so they can't be otherwise detected under normal use.

  11. gollux

    About time?

    Old men trying to learn new tricks.

    So, does that mean that lawmakers are now trying to be up-to-date instead of a decade late?

    Going to try understanding the new environment before passing laws instead of passing laws to uphold outdated business practice.

    OMG, we hope they know what they're doing at the end of the day?

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