From Smart Shoes to Safe Routers: Innovation Shines Bright at CES 2017

CES 2017 (the Consumer Electronics Show) has come and gone once again, bringing with it the newest wearables, state-of-the-art tech platforms, robots, and all things IoT. And as connected devices displayed their illustrious potential throughout the event, they also come as an indication of parallel efforts to come from cybercriminals. Meaning, as technology evolves, so do cyberthreats—a topic area that I was able to explore with event attendees during the Cybersecurity Forum panel, “Evolving Threats in a Connected World.”

Beyond this panel discussion on creating a better security posture in the face of advanced threats, let’s review what ultimately drives that evolution—the devices and innovations emerging from CES. Here are a few of my takeaways from the event:

Wearables continue steady growth

Wearables have continued to explode over the past few years, and this year’s CES proved that there’s no sign of slowing. From fitness-tracking rings, to nausea-relief wristbands, to eye-tracking glasses, to smart running shoe insoles, CES brought users technology that was personalized, thoughtful, and environmentally conscious. Not to mention a lot of it. 

Machine learning takes center stage

IoT is aiming to become more human, as smart device manufacturers know that machine learning has become a huge competitive differentiator. While Amazon’s Echo (a.k.a. Alexa) is still the most popular product out there, many companies put their stake in the ground and entered the machine learning-infused consumer product race at this year’s CES. For example, a robot designed to be a home assistant, named Kuri, emerged that responds to commands and handles tasks with voice and image recognition.

At a higher level, CES also highlighted how integral machine learning is becoming via their keynotes. One example: the speech from Carnival Cruise’s CEO Arnold Donald, where he dove into how technology, especially that powered by machine learning, is becoming a crucial aspect in just about every industry. Machine learning, he noted, gives companies the ability to provide a tailored and streamlined user experience that is unmatched by anything else.

Encryption solutions get further explored

Now, for a bit on gadget security at CES (the good stuff). Wedged between connected egg cookers and smart headphones was software that encrypts smart home commands. This kind of software can work with existing or new smart home systems, and encrypt (scramble up) any personal data cybercriminals might use to manipulate connected devices. This solution makes IoT security both feasible and easily organized—and, not to mention, is becoming increasingly important in the face of continuous ransomware encrypting data on its own terms. Remember it’s not often that ransomware plays nice (like Koolova does).

Cybersecurity is tackling IoT security at the router level

Just as innovative encryption solutions are growing, so are alternative security solutions that aim to protect connected devices and homes from evolving threats. One emerging solution? A new ARRIS router, which has the McAfee Secure Home Platform built into it. The ARRIS Surfboard SBG7580-AC offers protection nearly identical to the McAfee security software you might have installed on your desktop or laptop, except it extends protection to every device connected to your home network. In other words, if your smart lightbulbs or connected toaster see an attempted hack, the router will detect the threat and suspend an at-risk device’s internet access, so crooks can’t leverage it to gain access to your entire home’s connected kingdom.

All in all, CES 2017 proved that innovation isn’t slowing down, and that also goes for connected devices and the technology that protects them. Both the IoT and cybersecurity landscape are adapting to the needs of folks like you and me, to make sure everyone is securely connected in the New Year and beyond.

Be sure to stay on top of the latest consumer and security trends by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter.


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