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Security: Forethought and Planning Avoids Problems

My wife and I were watching the news the other night and a story came up about the latest telemarketing scam that is making its way around the country. With this new scam, you answer your phone and a person who sounds like a telemarketer asks, “Can you hear me OK?” Most people instinctively say “yes” because they can in fact hear them OK. This is a pretty reasonable reaction, but it is also a predictable one. The scammer records your “yes,” then hangs up the phone and uses the recording to make over-the-phone purchases with a credit card or account associated with your name. When you go to contest the charges the credit card company will pull up the purchase, play the recording and ask “Is this your voice?” at which point you’re trapped.

As I watched this story I was reminded of a beach vacation my family took when I was in high school. Every day we walked down to the beach, but always left the house unlocked because everyone made their way back to the house at different times. One afternoon, we returned to the beach house to find my dad’s wallet and mom’s purse had been stolen. My dad called the credit card company and sure enough someone had already started using their credit cards in nearby towns. Fortunately for us we had family friends staying with us who were able to spot us enough money to finish out the vacation. All in all, the material loss for our family was pretty negligible. However, the feeling of being violated stuck with our family (especially my mom) for a while. Every year since we have diligently locked our doors at the beach and remind ourselves of that year whenever the logistics of passing around a key seems not worth it.

When it comes to security a lot of us are reactive instead of proactive. How many more years would we have left our doors unlocked had we not been robbed that one time? Security used to be an afterthought for us at the beach, and still is an afterthought for many of us in different aspects of our lives. The scam on the news highlighted that there are now substantially more ways for someone to take from you (check out the extensive list of scams the FTC warns you about). In a time when our cell phones and tablets feel like extensions of ourselves, it is scary to think that someone can sit on the other side of the world and violate your personal space. Even scarier, is the damage could be more than just a feeling of being violate and actually be quite substantial. Think of the electronics used in a hospital, by the military, or in industrial settings, which is where many SECO USA boards and devices are used. These products use technologies similar to our cell phones and tablets. With the growth in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) there are increasing numbers of access points that could become vulnerable. You can imagine the sensitive nature of the information collected by these devices and carried across a network. You can imagine the damaging effect it could have to our customers if that information was not secure. We cannot afford to allow security to be an afterthought when we design our boards and devices.

SECO USA has developed a suite of products and techniques that are integrated during circuit board design, operating system software, and device packaging that is focused on improving security at the device level and across a network. SECO USA’s SecuritySmart suite of features include:

  • Encryption and authentication of local users, data, software, and network transactions
  • Geo-coordinate based operation, including the ability to detect and brick or track devices that have left a defined geographic perimeter
  • Device tamper detection and reaction
  • Incorporation of security modules and encryption key devices
  • Secure erase of programs and/or data
  • Security enhanced operating systems, including SE Linux and SE Android

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