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Inside IoT (Apr 20th, 2017)

A worm called "Hajime" has infected thousands of IoT devices across the globe. Security researchers do not know who created Hajime or how it might ultimately be used.

Attack code

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-37307823

Hajime was first discovered in October 2016 and, said security researchers, had been hunting down IoT devices with security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by a different worm, called Mirai.

Earlier the same month, a network of devices compromised by Mirai was responsible for knocking offline high-profile websites including Twitter, Spotify and Reddit.

Modest estimates suggested Hajime was now present on "tens of thousands" of devices, wrote Symantec researcher Waylon Grange in a blog.

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A Burger King video ad purposely baits Google voice assistant devices to read the ingredients of the iconic Whopper. In the ad, a man dressed as a Burger King employee, asks: "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?" The ad prompted a response from Google's voice assistant: "Whopper is a burger, consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100 percent beef with no preservatives or fillers, topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise, served on a sesame-seed bun." The ad set off a firestorm of criticism. Veteran privacy activist Lauren Weinstein accused Burger King of a “direct and voluntary violation of law" for accessing a computer without authorization. The two companies did not work together to create the advertisement. Google eventually disabled the prompt. – NAKED SECURITY

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Microsoft on Thursday announced a new “software-as-a-service” offering for developers, called IoT Central. The program is designed to make it easier to build Internet of Things products. IoT Central allows developers to create software and hardware without cloud expertise, which has been needed for large-scale IoT solutions in the past. The service is powered by Azure IoT Suite, Microsoft’s current central platform for IoT development. The cloud computing portion is expected to be automated. “[IoT Central] has the potential to dramatically increase the speed at which manufacturers can innovate and bring new products to market, as well as lower the barriers to creating IoT solutions that generate new revenue opportunities and better experiences for customers,” Microsoft said in a statement. – READWRITE

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Now for a look at the lighter side of IoT culture . . .

A Kansas City-Missouri startup has raised $8.5 million from a variety of area investors to help create an operating system and service platform for IoT devices. The company, Pepper, sells its software to insurance, utilities and electronics firms to provide consumers centralized management of their IoT and smart home devices. A user could control a smart thermostat, pay a bill and monitor a home’s energy use all from the same app. "We’re laser-focused on the user experience and we’ve separated ourselves from the crowd in IoT,” Pepper CEO Scott Ford said. “We’ve found really massive demand in what we’re doing. … There’s so much demand in the software and user experience side that we’ve shed everything else and designed our platform to be agnostic and work with any tech.” – STARTLAND NEWS

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Sports wearables that track an athlete's performance are becoming increasingly more popular. Fifa is looking to establish a global wearables standard that allows professional teams to use the same data-tracking technologies for training. Some of technology could make its way into live matches. Gadgets & Wearables reviews several products that could revolutionize soccer, including sensors that monitor running, goal keeping and ball control. The data helps coaches and players plan future workouts more effectively and make better personnel decisions. – GADGETS & WEARABLES

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Cox Communications has put a Phoenix smart home that can power 55 smart devices on display. The home features devices that range from virtual-reality headsets and a robotic dog that welcomes visitors to smart coffee makers and 3D printers, all powered through smart-phone apps. The home also offers a "next-gen" security system that can send alerts to homeowners' phones any time the front door is opened, and can lock doors automatically when homeowners leave. "All the devices are connected through the TouchScreen app," said Leslie Banner, a Cox spokeswoman. "It can make any home a smart home, it doesn't matter if the home is built 100 year ago. You just need the devices to enable them to work together ... it's however creative you can be with the rules." Cox says that by 2020, the average home will have 55 connected devices. –  ARIZONA CENTRAL

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California lawmakers have introduced "The Teddy Bear and Toaster Act," which would require manufacturers to better secure internet-connected products that record data. Senate Bill 327 would force companies to design their products to alert customers that it is gathering data. The devices would need buyers’ consent before collecting any personal information. In addition, the bill requires manufacturers to notify customers about security patches and other updates. “Internet connected devices have gone so far beyond desktop computers,” state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. “Consumers are not well-informed about how these devices use the Internet, what kind of information they collect, and where this information goes.” – SACRAMENTO BEE

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