The Next Big Opportunity for Network Providers: IoT Protection

Gagan Singh, 22 February 2019

Avast offers network providers a full spectrum of security building blocks, including IoT protection.

The worlds of tech, network providers, and security all converge in one exciting, new arena – the internet of things (IoT), and it is the next great frontier for each of them.

IoT products are on the rise like never before, with some experts predicting the number of connected devices worldwide will hit over 75 billion by 2025. New IoT gadgets and gizmos hit the shelves every week, but very few of them have security built in. This boom gives the tech world all-new smart devices to invent. Because of the lack of security on these new devices, it also gives the cybercrime world all-new devices to hack and compromise. As we grow the number of devices we use, we’re also growing the number of points in which we can be attacked. When all these products exist in the network, it gives the provider all-new smart devices to protect. In the world of security, a system is only as secure as its weakest point – in this case, the system is a smart home. Avast research found that 41% of homes around the globe have at least one vulnerable device. An Avast threat researcher recently showed how a coffee machine can serve as an entry point into your more personal devices, such as baby monitors.

What makes a device vulnerable? One common reason is the device’s own security, which may be limited or nonexistent due to cost and size restrictions as well as manufacturer know-how.  For example, an experienced consumer electronics manufacturer may know how to make a highly functional media streamer, but they may not have the needed expertise in cyberthreats and cybersecurity to design security into that device. Because the IoT device market is so fragmented and diverse, each new piece of hardware has its own manual, its own protocol, and its own special type of complexity, which makes it difficult to drive accountability amongst all of the original design manufacturers. 

Another reason is consumer confusion. Consumers are excited by enticing smart products but overwhelmed into inaction by the complexity of multi-device security. They buy new gadgets but then allow the default passwords to be the only barrier between a hacker and the home network. Research done by Avast and Stanford University shows that 7.1% of IoT devices and 14.6% of home routers around the world use the insecure protocols FTP or Telnet, which are more easily hacked and likely to have weak credentials. A simple and unfortunately common “admin/admin” log-in puts the entirety of the home network at risk.

The remedy here is whole network security, and Avast offers the enterprise solution every network provider needs.

In these tech-forward days, comprehensive security is dynamic. It’s composed of a series of building blocks. IoT protection is one of the newest blocks, and is a very important one. We have developed a suite of consumer products including full home network protection and IoT security and are offering our partners the same tools to protect their subscribers’ lives. By embedding the solution directly on network gateways or virtual routers, devices are always protected as they fluidly transition between mobile and ISP network connections. Whether it’s endpoint protection solutions safeguarding users beyond the walls of their home or router security securing devices at home, customers can have peace of mind knowing they are protected wherever they go and however they are connected.  

IoT security benefits

When a weak link (e.g. a smart light bulb, a home security camera, smart toaster, etc.) in the home network is identified and exploited, it’s like the hacker finding an open doorway into the home. Using the device’s connection to the router, the hacker can then get to any smart connected device in the home, for the router is the portal through which the home gets its internet. This is why complete home network protection begins with the router.  

Our security engine also happens to be the world’s largest machine learning network amongst consumer cybersecurity companies. With hundreds of millions of endpoints reporting the latest threats every day and several decades’ worth of big data already in the catalog, our threat detection is constantly improving. And with constant vigilance over the home router, it shuts down any malicious activity before harm can be done.

Using machine learning, our software gathers information on each IoT device, learning its patterns and monitoring for any abnormal behavior. If a threat is detected, the device in question is quarantined, preventing the threat from spreading to the rest of the home. These proactive security measures give customers the peace of mind that security experts are always looking out for them. And automatic cloud-based updates and asynchronous analytics keep the software continuously updated with the very latest defenses while never interfering with the user’s internet service.

More peace of mind comes from the parental controls and other family safety features built into the security suite. Parents gain insights into their children’s web usage, which can stimulate constructive conversation on safe, healthy internet habits. Parental controls let guardians block sites or limit usage, depending on what’s best for their family. Also, because our IoT security keeps track of where each device is physically, parents in turn can see exactly where their kids are at all times.

Looking ahead

Eventually, 5G networks will become the standard, and users will find they have multiple connection choices. They may have some devices on their ISP network, some on a 5G hotspot, and perhaps others on virtual 5G routers, creating an ecosystem of blended connections. When this is the case, the next evolution of whole network protection will include security on those virtual 5G gateways. Our Smart Home Security solution is built on more than just the router, reaching into the higher layer of the network for a ubiquitous and fluid solution. It will not only protect your IoT today, but it is designed to grow and evolve to protect your IoT tomorrow as well.

A unique opportunity for network providers

As gatekeepers to the Internet, network providers are in a prime position to capture the majority of this market. By focusing on IoT security, network providers will enable safer digital experiences and make users feel comfortable using their devices worry-free. 

Our Smart Life Platform solution offers features such as security and parental controls plus IoT security. To learn more about the reasons to get ahead on IoT security, read our white paper about the future of secure smart homes. 

A partner to secure the future 

MNOs and ISPs trust Avast as their partner because we have been the global leader in providing family safety solutions with carriers for over 13 years, partnering with tier 1 telecom companies all over the world. For example, top Italian mobile operator Wind Tre partnered with Avast to roll out the second phase of Wind Family Protect, which includes router security based on Avast’s Smart Life platform.

“The lives of Italian families and individuals are increasingly becoming digital, and keeping them safe shouldn’t add more complexity to their lives, which is why we’re offering them a fully integrated solution with Wind Family Protect, allowing customers to protect themselves and their families at home and on-the-go,” said Tommaso Vitali, B2C Marketing Director of Wind Tre. “Avast’s technology perfectly fulfills our requirements in offering sophisticated security, with an easy-to-use interface for our subscribers.“

Aside from our carrier partners, we cover over 400 million users worldwide. Independent third-party labs like AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives continually grade Avast software with top marks.

Our IoT security solution works on all devices and all platforms, and can be customized to fit your needs and brand. Give your customer base the security they want and deserve by partnering with Avast. Let’s step into the future together, where top-tier mobile service and unparalleled security work hand-in-hand. Learn more about what our software can do for your network, or reach out to us at partners@avast.com.

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