NETGEAR shows how to keep smart devices safe from attack

NETGEAR is warning people that smart household appliance are being used as access routes into home networks in order to hack other devices such as laptops.

To protect households from ransomware attacks, NETGEAR is demonstrating how to use its Armor technology, powered by Bitdefender, to protect the devices we usually can’t, such as smart fridges, TVs, thermostats, robot vacuum cleaners, toasters, coffee machines, baby monitors, etc.

NETGEAR’s Armor provides multi-layered cybersecurity to defend the connected home and unlimited IoT devices from online threats, at home and on the go. 

According to the company, smart appliances often receive unencrypted firmware updates without any authentication or code-signing required, and a skilled hacker can replace the factory firmware with a malicious one. Hacked appliances act as a Wi-Fi access point, establishing an unencrypted, unsecured connection to a companion app. 

This opens the door for attackers who target one application as it allows them to gain control over others and they can turn on devices such as hobs, water heater, etc, displaying ransom messages and making them bleep continuously. Owners are then forced to either pay a ransom or permanently pull the plug on their device. 

Out-of-range hackers can also easily attack devices by remotely hacking a Wi-Fi router, leading them to access computers and other devices connected to the same network. The homeowner is unlikely to notice this has happened. 

Devices not connected to a network can be even more vulnerable because it is easier for the attackers to get through to. 

NETGEAR’s protective solution is Armor which runs on selected NETGEAR mesh router systems to protect networks and connected smart home devices against attacks including ransomware, trojans, spyware zero-day exploits, rootkits, malicious links, fraudulent websites intent on stealing personal data such as passwords or credit card details, and other online threats. 

Essentially, Armor is an anti-virus for the router rather than an anti-virus that has to be installed on each individual device. 

Protecting against IoT security concerns, Bitdefender’s anti-virus, anti-malware and data protection software for end devices is built in to NETGEAR Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi systems and Nighthawk Wi-Fi routers. 

Armor’s features include web protection to help users browse safely as well as alerting users and blocking potentially harmful webpages. It also uses Bitdefender BPN that encrypts the internet connection to keep online browsing and connection to public Wi-Fi networks private. Bitdefender Security is also used to provide on the go protection for iOS, Mac, Android and Windows devices. 

Armor also does active vulnerability scans on all connected devices in the home and has instant alerts to notify homeowners when threats are detected and blocked through the NETGEAR Orbi/Nighthawk app. Finally, it features anti-theft protection in case any devices are lost or stolen. 

NETGEAR Armor is available for a free 30-day trial period which can be followed by a yearly subscription starting at £59.99 / €69.99.

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