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CES: How to cope with IoT threats

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At this year’s CES it became clear that just about any electronic device can be connected to the Internet. As good as this sounds, each device creates a vulnerability which needs to be addressed, writes DAVID EMM at Kaspersky Lab.

At the end of 2016 the world discovered just how vulnerable indiscriminately connected ‘Internet-of-Things’ gadgets could be, when hundreds of thousands of smart domestic and city devices were press-ganged into forming massive global botnets and used to attack the internet. These devices were often worryingly easy to hack, released by manufacturers with only basic security, default passwords and no ability to upgrade their software, and then inadequately protected, if at all, by the consumer.

Nevertheless, as can be seen at this year’s major consumer electronics show, CES2017, over the next decade pretty much everything, from the functional to the frivolous, is likely to come with an app and wireless capability. And the world needs to be ready for this.

·      Firstly, when it comes to the devices themselves, it is vital that individuals, organisations and manufacturers understand the security threats posed by malware and other attacks – and start to design-in security from the start, and implement basic protection measures before the device is connected.

·      Secondly, the world needs to prepare for fact that the ‘crime scene’ of tomorrow will be the Internet-of-Things.  The recent demand for Amazon to release data collected by its Echo Dot in order to assist in a murder enquiry (Amazon has refused to comply), highlights the growing role of connected devices in criminal investigations. Such voice-activated software, including similar offerings by Google, LG and more, will be on proud display at CES.  It is worth bearing in mind its potential ability to capture conversations taking place near the device; and if your access credentials are weak you have no idea who else might be listening in.

·      The integrity of such systems will be increasingly critical. Some developers are already starting to experiment with software that can add to or alter voice recording, a ‘Photoshop for voice’, as it were.  In the world of cybersecurity, there is never time to stand still.

Connected devices offer much that is beneficial, remarkable and entertaining – and which will make the world a happier, healthier, more productive place.  But, left unprotected, they can also make us more vulnerable to others whose intentions are less honourable.  Don’t let them in.

* David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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