Study reveals alarming cybersecurity risks due to outdated firmware


In the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), the widespread integration of devices into our daily lives, industries, and critical infrastructures has become a reality. These smart devices, which are constantly connected and process sensitive data, require regular software and firmware updates to address vulnerabilities and enhance cybersecurity. A recent study conducted by Fraunhofer ISI analyzed data from 52 billion devices, revealing that the threat of severe cyber attacks is imminent.

Many IoT devices quickly become unnoticed after installation, risking security

The study reveals that after their installation, many IoT devices quickly fade from perception. Possible vulnerabilities in outdated firmware or neglected software updates are often disregarded, even when provided by manufacturers.

This leads to serious privacy and security threats for users. The study data indicates that the use of many of these devices is associated with significant cybersecurity risks, and privacy is no longer assured.

Worldwide Efforts to Protect Users: Stricter Regulations and Updates

Government officials around the world are recognizing the need for strict regulations to protect users from these threats. In 2022, the European Union implemented a directive that obligates manufacturers to provide security updates to consumers for several years after purchasing a device. This is a significant step towards safer devices and improved data protection.

Study reveals global distribution of IoT devices and their age

The study conducted an analysis of 400 terabytes of data collected from a total of 52 billion devices, enabling comparisons between different countries. The findings revealed that the majority of these devices are installed in the United States, followed by Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, and France. In terms of device age, Ireland boasts the most up-to-date devices, while Portugal falls behind. In Southeast Asia, Singapore emerges as the frontrunner, while Malaysia lags behind. Japan, on the other hand, has the oldest devices.

Impact of GDPR on Device Age in European Countries

The study examines the impact of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Interestingly, the age of devices in Europe has actually increased in 28 out of 35 EU member states since the GDPR came into effect. This suggests that many users believe that companies are responsible for updates and are more focused on data protection after the GDPR. However, the low update rate should raise concerns among manufacturers, users, and policymakers and draw attention to this issue.

Joint efforts needed to ensure secure IT infrastructure

To ensure a more secure IT infrastructure, it is crucial for manufacturers, regulatory authorities, and users to work together. Regulatory authorities should provide guidelines that mandate manufacturers to incorporate user-friendly update mechanisms into their devices. Additionally, updates could be made a requirement for the CE marking, ensuring compliance before devices are allowed to operate in Europe. Only through such measures can the security and privacy of users be guaranteed.

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