Trend Micro Research Finds Serious Business Risks Due to Smart Buildings

As buildings and homes are more connected, enterprise businesses face
new physical and data security threats

Micro Incorporated
; TSE:
), a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, today announced
new research revealing that IoT automation platforms in smart buildings
are presenting attackers with new opportunities for both physical and
data compromise. The findings have serious implications for
organizations operating inside smart buildings, including spying on
users, unlocking doors and stealing data, as well as employees working
from smart home environments.

The new report, Cybersecurity
Risks in Complex IoT Environments: Threats to Smart Homes, Buildings and
Other Structures
, warns that automation platforms are
increasingly being used to chain multiple devices together to create
user-friendly smart applications. This inadvertently creates new and
unpredictable attack surfaces that can be hard to manage.

“IoT devices, their uses and the environments in which they are used
have all gotten more complex very quickly, but security is still not
built into these devices,” Greg Young, vice president of cybersecurity
for Trend Micro. “Today, personal and corporate data may cross many
routers, an IoT control, various IoT protocols and more all within a
day’s work. This creates an ideal situation for criminals – why attack a
robust enterprise when the remote worker’s smart home is exceptionally

Whether a smart building is purpose-built to support IoT or not, there
are three main types of automation systems outlined in the report: local
standalone servers, cloud-based servers, and virtual assistant-based
servers. The first category is the most common, so Trend Micro Research
accordingly set up two types, FHEM and Home Assistant servers, to
control 100 test connected devices over two sites.

A recent Gartner report estimates that, by 2021, there will be 25.1
billion internet-connected devices, growing at a rate of 32% per year.
This report also points out that, “This rapid expansion of
connected-device solutions can be summarized as follows: Everything that
can be connected to the internet will be — eventually.”1

Researchers found the biggest issue with automation rules is that they
become increasingly complex as more devices and actions are added. They
are prone to logic errors, and it becomes more challenging to manage,
track, and debug actions, especially if there are functional overlaps
between rules.

The research reveals a variety of new threats specific to complex IoT
environments, including: cloning a user’s voice to issue commands via a
voice assistant speaker; adding a phantom device to fool presence
detection checks in smart locks to keep doors unlocked; and inserting
logic bugs to switch off smart alarms and more.

The research also warns that many IoT automation servers are exposed on
the public internet, including 6,200 Home Assistant servers found via a
simple Shodan search. Attackers could exploit this security oversight to
break into smart buildings, or reprogram automation rules, steal
hardcoded sensitive data including router log-ins, add new devices,
infect devices with malware, and conscript devices into botnets.

Trend Micro recommends a list of precautionary measures to help mitigate
the new threats presented by complex IoT environments, including:

  • Enable password protection
  • Change default settings
  • Do not jailbreak devices or install applications from unverified
    third-part marketplaces
  • Update device firmware
  • Enable encryption in both disk storage and communication platforms
  • Make regular backups of the configuration and automation rule files of
    your IoT automation server

For the complete report, please visit:

About Trend Micro

Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions,
helps to make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Our
innovative solutions for consumers, businesses, and governments provide
layered security for data centers, cloud environments, networks, and
endpoints. All our products work together to seamlessly share threat
intelligence and provide a connected threat defense with centralized
visibility and control, enabling better, faster protection. With more
than 6,000 employees in over 50 countries and the world’s most advanced
global threat intelligence, Trend Micro enables organizations to secure
their journey to the cloud. For more information, visit

1 Gartner, How to Secure the Enterprise Against the Internet
of Things Onslaught, Jon Amato, Mark Judd, 14 December 2018


Erin Johnson
[email protected]

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