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 paper: Behind the scenes of GandCrab's operation

The GandCrab ransomware regularly updated itself to newer versions to stay ahead of decryptors released by security researchers, and regularly included taunts, jokes and references to security organizations in its code. In a new paper, the AhnLab…

VB2019 paper: King of the hill: nation-state counterintelligence for victim deconfliction

At VB2019 Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade looked at nation-state actors using threat intelligence for victim deconfliction. Today we publish both his paper and the recording of his presentation.

The VB2020 call for papers - how it works

With the VB2020 Call for Papers now open, we explain how the selection procedure works, which may help you during your abstract submission.

VB2019 presentation: Targeted attacks through ISPs

In 2019 we saw a rise in the number of targeted malware infections spread via ISPs and service providers. In a last-minute paper presented at VB2019 in London, Kaspersky researcher Denis Legezo discussed the details of a number of such cases. Today…

VB2019 presentation: A deep dive into iPhone exploit chains

In a last-minute presentation at VB2019 in London, John Bambenek of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discussed details of campaigns that used advanced iOS and Android exploit chains against China’s Uighur minority. Today we release the…

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.