F-Secure makes SENSE of smart home IoT insecurities

Helping kettles and light bulbs toughen up their anti-hacking attitude

F-Secure is looking to go that extra mile in consumer security with the launch of an anti-hacker appliance for the Internet of Things.

The device, dubbed SENSE, works as a secure gateway, policing traffic to devices that might be insecure and generating alerts. For example, it will warn consumers if their router is running with default settings, and therefore with a more easily hackable password.

Credential-spewing iKettles, insecure hubs and potentially snoopy smart TVs are characteristic of the generally lamentable state of IoT security.

SENSE won’t fix problems such as weak crypto or default passwords directly, but it will mitigate against the risk of malware-infected hubs on a home network attempting to contact botnet control servers. The kit will also offer control over UPnP.

“Patching light bulbs is not going to happen,” said F-Secure chief exec Christian Fredrikson. “With SENSE you don’t have to worry if you smart TV is secure or not.”

Samu Konttinen, F-Secure’s executive veep, consumer security, added: “We’ve seen footage from nanny cams streamed online without people’s knowledge or consent, and it’s been proven that intruders can use something as simple as a connected light bulb to get access to people’s homes.”

F-Secure is well known for its mobile security software, where it has successfully used operators to sell on its security suites. The Finnish firm plans to use the same network of 200 operators, alongside other channels including its own website, to sell SENSE. The kit is due to ship in Spring 2016.

The technology, which is designed for ease of set-up and use, is designed to protect smart homes, and combines unique hardware and software to offer a single source of protection for all of the devices in homes – including PCs, tablets and smartphones, as well as newer IoT products.

The product uses F-Secure’s Security Cloud to secure internet traffic going in and out of homes, and lets people manage the security of their network and devices with a simple mobile app.

VPN technology will not feature is the first version of the kit but is on the product development roadmap.

In response to a moribund consumer security software market, F-Secure is moving on from selling consumers downloads to protect computers and smartphones individually to selling a unified home security appliance, with recurring revenues through subscription to software update services.

The hardware and software, as well as a 12-month subscription to the service, is priced at EUR99. Monthly subscriptions can be renewed for 8EUR per month.

The tech was launched during a keynote at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki, Finland on Wednesday. ®

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