Things in IoT You Need to Know This Week: June 6 – June 10

This week, a British security firm demonstrated that a Mitsubishi Outlander could be hacked fairly easily. The Washington Post asks whether services such as Amazon Echo are violating a child privacy law. In addition, the U.S. government received an avalanche of correspondence related to the IoT after asking what role government should play in helping support the development of the industry.

Brian Buntz

June 8, 2016

3 Min Read
The Mitsubishi Outlander
Pen Test Partners

The Next Car to Be Hacked: the Mitsubishi Outlander

Wired created a ruckus last year after showing a video of how certain elements of a Jeep could be controlled remotely. Now, the British security firm Pen Test Partners reveals that some of the security vulnerabilities of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV are “really quite nasty,” says security expert Ken Munro in a video posted on the Pen Test Partners website. “We discovered that we can take control of many functions of the car with nothing more than a computer.” According to BBC, Munro first noticed the vulnerability after he saw a Wi-Fi network pop up on his smartphone that came from a nearby Mitsubishi Outlander that belonged to a friend. Using an associated app, a person other than the owner of the car could control several features on the car. Munro said in the video that the hack could potentially be used by a thief to disable the alarm. In a statement, Mitsubishi countered that: “It should be noted that without the remote control device, the car cannot be started and driven away.”

Amazon Echo May Be Violating Privacy Provision

Amazon’s Echo smart speaker is a runaway success but the device with steadily evolving capabilities—it is now able to perform more than 1000 skills. But the ability of the device to always listen to conversations and record them could be illegal, reports the Washington Post. Specifically, the device could be violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, thanks to its ability to record and store children’s voices. Jeffrey Chester, an attorney who helped write the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, is also concerned about privacy implications of services like Siri and Google’s forthcoming Home smart speaker.

U.S. Government Flooded with Comments from Industry Regarding IoT

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration put out a call for comments to industry on what role government should play in driving the evolution of the IoT. 141 organizations and individuals responded. Although a diverse number of parties were in the mix, including privacy advocates, universities, and state governments, the bulk of the commentary came from industry. In its comments, Booz Allen Hamilton noted that the IoT will cause significant shifts in the workforce, rendering some jobs like truck driving obsolete while creating new positions for developers and cybersecurity experts. The American Bar Association lamented that there was a lack of coordination of IoT standards: “The risk of cacophony, and outright normative conflict, whether among standards regimes or between some standards and emerging regulations is present, if not inevitable.” In a recent article, Computer World summarized several of the comments from several of the organizations that submitted comments. A related article from FCW states that the U.S. government presently isn't ready to regulate the IoT.

A Hard Road for Nest

In January 2014, Google announced that it would buy Nest for $3.2 billion. Now, after the CEO and co-founder of the company, Tony Fadell, is stepping down, the tech community is wondering what happened. Ars Technica observes that, as a Google division, Nest quadrupled its number of employees, and gave it an almost unlimited budget, yet Nest failed to deliver much of anything in terms of new product introductions. Ars continues by stating that Nest was a frequent source of bad news for Google in the form of everything from recalls to the company's closure of the Revolv smart home hub two years after Nest acquired it. 

Microsoft Debuts Smart Mirror

Microsoft is working on developing a one-way mirror with a liquid crystal display behind it, writes Electronics 360. The smart mirror also includes facial recognition technology to detect eight distinct emotions. The mirror then matches the service to match the mood of a person. The mirror also could display information such as time and weather.

About the Author(s)

Brian Buntz

Brian is a veteran journalist with more than ten years’ experience covering an array of technologies including the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, and cybersecurity. Before coming to Penton and later Informa, he served as the editor-in-chief of UBM’s Qmed where he overhauled the brand’s news coverage and helped to grow the site’s traffic volume dramatically. He had previously held managing editor roles on the company’s medical device technology publications including European Medical Device Technology (EMDT) and Medical Device & Diagnostics Industry (MD+DI), and had served as editor-in-chief of Medical Product Manufacturing News (MPMN).

At UBM, Brian also worked closely with the company’s events group on speaker selection and direction and played an important role in cementing famed futurist Ray Kurzweil as a keynote speaker at the 2016 Medical Design & Manufacturing West event in Anaheim. An article of his was also prominently on, a website dedicated to Kurzweil’s ideas.

Multilingual, Brian has an M.A. degree in German from the University of Oklahoma.

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