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:

New article: Run your malicious VBA macros anywhere!

Kurt Natvig explains how he recompiled malicious VBA macro code to valid harmless Python 3.x code.

New article: Dissecting the design and vulnerabilities in AZORult C&C panels

In a new article, Aditya K Sood looks at the command-and-control (C&C) design of the AZORult malware, discussing his team's findings related to the C&C design and some security issues they identified.

VB2021 localhost call for papers: a great opportunity

VB2021 localhost presents an exciting opportunity to share your research with an even wider cross section of the IT security community around the world than usual, without having to take time out of your work schedule (or budget) to travel.

New article: Excel Formula/Macro in .xlsb?

In a follow-up to an article published last week, Kurt Natvig takes us through the analysis of a new malicious sample using the .xlsb file format.

New article: Decompiling Excel Formula (XF) 4.0 malware

In a new article, researcher Kurt Natvig takes a close look at XF 4.0 malware.

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.