Google, Microsoft and others create guidelines for improving IoT security

The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group – an alliance formed by Google, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon and others in the tech industry – has laid out guidelines for improving security on Internet of Things devices.

The group, also known as BITAG, was formed in 2010 to produce best practices for broadband security and published its recommendations for IoT manufacturers yesterday.

In the document, BITAG warned that “the nature of consumer IoT is unique because it can involve non-technical or uninterested consumers; challenging device discovery and inventory on consumer home networks,” adding that IoT devices can be hijacked to create “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, perform surveillance and monitoring, gain unauthorized access or control, induce device or system failures, and disturb or harass authorized users or device owners.”

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To avoid such exploits, BITAG makes a number of recommendations for manufacturers, including:

  • Shipping products with up-to-date software
  • Including a mechanism for automated and secure software updates
  • Providing “Strong authentication”, such as password protection, by default
  • Conducting security tests on a number of configurations
  • Following security and cryptography best practices
  • Ensuring devices remain functional even if the cloud back-end fails

BITAG also suggested that, when possible, IoT devices should not be reachable via inbound connections by default. As an advisory group, however, BITAG can’t legally enforce any of its recommendations on IoT device manufacturers.

In October, an IoT exploit was a major contributor in an internet blackout in the US, which affected huge parts of the country. You can watch our own Gary Sims detail some of the concerns surrounding IoT security in this video.

Samsung and Microsoft partner up to expand Tizen

The South Korean electronics giant announced its partnership with Microsoft to bring more developers to its open source operating system, Tizen.

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Samsung is slowly expanding its Tizen portfolio – mainly in the form of smartwatches and smart TVs – but while the open source OS gives the company more freedom and autonomy compared to, say, Android, the major drawback here is that Tizen just doesn’t have enough apps. Look at the recently launched Gear S3, for instance: its specs are undoubtedly one of the best out there, if not the best. The design is flawless (at least in my opinion), but there is a huge problem aside from its price tag: apps are lacking and the quality of those that are available isn’t all too great.

Well, it seems like Samsung is really convinced that Tizen has the potential to grow. The company has announced today that it would be collaborating with Microsoft on “open source projects, such as .NET Core and Xamarin.Forms” in order to facilitate .NET support for Tizen. .NET is a Microsoft-developed framework that helps developers create apps more easily.

In fact, Samsung will be releasing the first preview of Visual Studio Tools for Tizen today for .NET developers:

The first preview supports mobile application development with device emulators and an extension to Visual Studio with full IntelliSense and debugging capabilities. Support for Smart TVs, wearables, and other IoT devices will be added in future releases.

On top of that, Samsung released open source codes for Tizen RT, which is currently used in its smart fridges and AC units. According to the company, there are over 50 million devices powered by Tizen right now, and it’s only set to grow further. The success of Tizen will largely depend on its app support, so I’m curious to see how this collaboration will contribute to the growth of what Samsung seems to think is the next OS.

The success of Tizen will largely depend on its app support, so I’m curious to see how this collaboration will contribute to the growth of what Samsung seems to think is the next OS.

Would you switch to Tizen if its app support were significantly better? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!