Anti-virus solutions for connected homes too

SAN FRANCISCO: Ever thought that your refrigerator could send spam, while it appears to be innocently making ice cubes? The thought might not have crossed yours but it has Symantec’s.

Symantec, makers of Norton anti-virus software, is preparing for a very-near future wherein our houses will be full of smart appliances each with their own sophisticated computers.

Adding to the plethora of smart gadgets that already dot our home will be smarter refrigerators, washing machines and cars that can connect over the Internet, some with tweeting powers. Over five-billion devices are likely to be connected by Wi-Fi in the home by 2014.

“And by 2015, the number of devices connected to Internet Protocols will be twice that of the world’s population,” says Ed Doe, product line director at telecom chipmaker Broadcom’s Networking SOC business.

This is why, just like our PCs and email inboxes, connected homes too urgently need to be protected from viruses, malware and phishing scams. Broadcom and Symantec’s Norton Labs are working on an anti virus solution which is scheduled to be out later this year.

Codenamed “Project Apollo” the gateway-based solution will run on Broadcom hardware and will help households manage and secure all the connected devices in the home. “The solution will be built into the router because the router is always on. It is never switched off,” says Shaun Cooley, a Norton Labs’ Distinguished Engineer. This is a feasible solution because the common thread between the clutter of devices is that they are all Net-connected.

“In the future, security will have to move from securing a specific device (typically a PC) to securing a home network, as well as securing devices under multiple operating systems. Ideally, the consumer could have a common interface to configure security that maps out the overall network rather than needing to understand each device’s specific configuration settings,” says Sam Rosen, practice director – TV & Video, Broadband and Connected Home at ABI Research, a tech consultancy.

Hacking into your refrigerator’s computer to send spam is one thing. “Someone could develop a vulnerability attack and change the physical appliance from operating correctly in the first place,” says Lawrence Pingree, research director of security technologies at Gartner.

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