Rise of the Evil Consumer Devices

Crazy as it may sound, digital appliances and accessories can infect your computers with viruses and worms. It is happening more and more. Although not near a tipping point, an evil cloud is rising.

Unlikely Threats

It is concerning enough we have to worry about USB drives, WiFi hotspots, mobile phones, PDA's, printers, email attachments, file downloads, search engines, and surfing just about any website. But now we must keep a suspicious eye on our new net-enabled refrigerator, digital picture frames, music playing sunglasses, and even the toaster.

Recent articles shows how consumer devices integrated with network enabled computers are sources for malware infections. It is not shocking software CD/DVD's, or USB Drives might have nasty code lurking. Suspicion is the norm anytime we are connecting or installing something directly to our trusty computer. In those situations, we take proper precautions. But what about media players, GPS devices, and most recently wireless digital picture frames? These devices may not directly connect via traditional cable. Does the average consumer realize when they flip the power button they may be turning on a wireless device infected with malware seeking to infect anything within range?

The toaster is out to get you!

It is not just the geek toys anymore. Not to long ago, an enterprising individual took it upon himself to hack a regular toaster, just to prove it could be a source of malware. A toaster! Very impressive, but what is next?

As computers are integrated into everything and are being upgraded with more power and connectivity, the threat landscape grows. Our cars, major appliances, personal electronics, accessories, and even clothing are potentially at risk. We are dragging these items into the digital world and in doing so, overlaying cyber risks on them.

Although not widespread, more and more stories are emerging and the list of products grows longer. At some point we will be forced to re-evaluate the standard threat categories to include some non-traditional vectors. Personally, I am waiting for shoe manufacturers to implant computers in their products so we can have "walk-by attacks". Can't wait.

Some news reference links:

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Matthew Rosenquist

About Matthew Rosenquist

Matthew Rosenquist is a Cybersecurity Strategist for Intel Corp and benefits from 20+ years in the field of security. He specializes in strategy, measuring value, and developing cost effective capabilities and organizations which deliver optimal levels of security. Matthew helped with the formation of the Intel Security Group, an industry leading organization bringing together security across hardware, firmware, software and services. An outspoken advocate of cybersecurity, he strives to advance the industry and his guidance can be heard at conferences, and found in whitepapers, articles, and blogs.