The state of security in consumer electronics

Every year, the city of Las Vegas plays host to many of the biggest names in consumer electronics at the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show)conference. For many organizations, this is the show where they release their new cutting-edge products or show their vision for the future.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

This show covers everything from the latest in smart toasters to AI-powered concept electric vehicles. In 2020, over 4,500 organizations participated in the show, encompassing over 2.9 million square feet in venues around the Las Vegas strip.  

This is heaven for a geek like me, and I finally attended the show this year. Besides just geeking out at the new technology, my goal was simple. I wanted to chat with vendors about the security of their products, especially those that are being targeted for home use.

In the age of internet-connected refrigerators and cheap cloud-connected home security cameras, we are connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the internet at a fantastic pace. It is estimated that there are over 46 billion connected devices out there, an average of 10 devices per household. With all of these connected devices being installed in our homes, I had hoped that security would be a significant focus; however, this does not appear to be the case.

Why Security Is a Concern in These Consumer Electronics

The state of security in consumer electronics

You might ask yourself why security would be a concern with these devices. I mean, who really cares if a refrigerator has a security vulnerability? What is the worst that can happen if a fridge gets attacked? Well, unfortunately, a lot of things can happen, and few of them are good. Here are a couple of scenarios.

Imagine going to the refrigerator to get a cold glass of milk, and on the screen is a message saying if you do not pay some cybercriminals several hundred dollars soon, your fridge will stop working. This is called ransomware, and while not a serious threat to your typical household appliances right now, it is just a matter of time.

Ransomware has become one of the biggest threats to networks in organizations in modern times, and there is very little keeping them from targeting homes. With the cost of refrigerators rising to several thousand…