We cannot ignore the increased use of IoT in domestic abuse cases

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Jun 26, 2018

Smart home technology is increasingly being used in domestic abuse cases. In more than 30 interviews with The New York Times, domestic abuse victims, their lawyers, shelter workers and emergency responders have described how the technology is becoming an alarming new tool.

Security concerns over smart homes, and more generally the Internet of Things (IoT), are nothing new and the rise of IoT botnets demonstrates that these concerns are valid, even if the security community has a tendency to overstate the likeliness of IoT vulnerabilities being exploited in the wild.

But at least these risks are typically limited to the device itself, or to the devices connected to it. However, in using IoT devices for harassment, intimidation or simply confusion, a malicious actor targets the victim directly: they can change the temperature in a house, play loud music or turn the lights on and off.

For the most part, this isn't a technical problem: the abusers often use the official apps to control the devices – and in many cases it will have been the abusers themselves that installed the devices. In a sense, what they exploit is a feature, not a bug. Yet that doesn't mean that device manufacturers, or the wider tech community, can ignore these issues.

Unfortunately, new technology has provided abusers with a number of new opportunities: at VB2017 last year, Joseph Cox gave a talk on the use of spyware in domestic abuse cases, another worrying trend. In both cases, the victims' threat model is one that is vastly different from what we, as the security community, are used to dealing with. That doesn't mean we can afford to ignore it though.

 

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

The spam that is hardest to block is often the most damaging

We see a lot of spam in the VBSpam test lab, and we also see how well such emails are being blocked by email security products. Worryingly, it is often the emails with a malicious attachment or a phishing link that are most likely to be missed.

Throwback Thursday: We're all doomed

Mydoom turns 15 this month, and is still being seen in email attachments. This Throwback Thursday we look back to March 2004, when Gabor Szappanos tracked the rise of W32/Mydoom.

VB2019 call for papers - now open!

Have you analysed a new online threat? Do you know a new way to defend against such threats? Are you tasked with securing systems and fending off attacks? The call for papers for VB2019 is now open and we want to hear from you!

VB2018 paper: Unpacking the packed unpacker: reversing an Android anti-analysis library

Today, we publish a VB2018 paper by Google researcher Maddie Stone in which she looks at one of the most interesting anti-analysis native libraries in the Android ecosystem. We also release the recording of Maddie's presentation.

VB2018 paper: Draw me like one of your French APTs – expanding our descriptive palette for cyber threat actors

Today, we publish the VB2018 paper by Chronicle researcher Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, who argues we should change the way we talk about APT actors.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.