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McAfee - Why now is the time to secure the smart home

(Image credit: Photo Credit: bergserg/ Shutterstock)

Smart homes and buildings have rapidly become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Internet of Things (IoT), providing more intelligent and connected places to live and work.

However the rapid rise of smart ‘things’ has unfortunately coincided with a similar increase in cyber-threats affecting consumers and businesses alike, as hackers target connected products that have little or no protection.

McAfee is looking to lead the way when it comes to securing the smart home, and showed off its new Secure Home Platform release at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona last month.

The new release is designed specifically with securing smart homes in mind, and allows protection for a wide range of connected household items, including smart TVs, appliances, and routers.

The service is even interoperable with Amazon Echo, with an Alexa skill that allows users to quickly scan and detect if any internet connections or smart devices have been compromised.

"The challenge around security is that the consumer may have seen this before, and thought it was difficult to do,” Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist, told ITProPortal at the show, “but now, it's on by default, you don't have to do any other work, and you can manage it by your voice."

"It's an amazing thing to watch,” adds Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist, “giving you meaningful security insights without you having to do anything matters to consumers, it puts it in a very simple context (users) can relate to."

(Image credit: Michael Moore)

McAfee has also recently teamed up with Telefonica to install Secure Home Platform directly into home internet routers, hopefully safeguarding what has in recent years been an extremely common attack vector.

The service will also allow all devices connecting to a Telefonica router to stay secure, including the growing number of IoT and smart home items, and even extend protection outside of the home thanks to its endpoint solution.

McAfee is hoping that the launch of Secure Home Platform will help spur a new era for smart security, alerting manufacturers and consumers alike to the possible risks around today.

"This is not a security thing,” says Samaini, “people talk about cybersecurity, but it's more than that. When it comes to IoT, when you talk about cars, it's a safety issue. When it comes to the CCTV cameras or IoT, it's more than just that - it's your ability to be able to lead a normal life."

"You can install security for your phone, but what are you going to do about your thermostat, what are you going to do about your fridge, your TV - all of these things come into play.” 

“We want the industry to integrate security and privacy by design, but we have to accept that there's going to be scenarios in which it's not going to be possible to do that...there will be scenarios where devices that can't be updated will be in our environment."

For now, McAfee is hoping that its new releases will become fixtures in homes and offices across the world, helping protect users from the growing number of security risks that face this modern connected society.

As Samani notes, "Anything that comes out that can help make our society safer in terms of the data that we use and the systems that we have, we applaud - that should be the objective, if it makes society safer and more secure, that should be all."

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro, and has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and ITProPortal.