CES Conference 2019 from a security-oriented perspective

CES Conference 2019

Earlier this month over a quarter of a million people descended on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, one of the largest trade shows in the world.

When this conference started in the 1960s the focus was mainly on gadgets and has since morphed into tech’s largest expo, spanning multiple industries. All the exhibitioners vie to show off their latest toys to the media. Tech might be a misnomer here, because although startups and early stage tech may be featured in the show’s Eureka Park area, it’s mostly a battle of the larger international brands who spend significant resources to present themselves as the most innovative. With the hardware presented at the show the challenges securing all these IoT (Internet of Things) enabled devices will only increase. Join us as we give you Interfor’s take on this year’s CES highlights from a security-oriented perspective, as well as what to look for in the coming year.

Big Tech’s open battle around privacy

Apple has for many years stayed away from the CES Conference madness, focusing on presenting its newest iPhones at its own shows. This year Apple’s appearance came in the form of a major billboard trolling Google about privacy. Both company’s business models (and philosophies on privacy) differ from day to night; Apple values consumer privacy vs. Google’s push for open data, and it came to a fore here at CES Conference 2019. This year will probably spell major challenges for big tech, as more news is revealed about data sharing and its misuse. Facebook took a real pounding in the media in 2018 (many would say justifiably so); we’ll see how 2019 plays out for the rest of Silicon Valley’s heavyweights.

Integration of IoT devices in our daily lives

A continuation of the Big Tech battles; with Amazon (Alexa and Key) squaring off against Google’s Assistant for the dominance of tech that integrates into all aspects of our lives. What was particularly interesting was the number of healthcare related IoT devices featured at the show. While a net positive for improving our health (implying of course we’ll share all our personal data to power these devices) the thought of someone hacking into IoT devices connected to our health is truly frightening. Every year at CES sees a significant increase in IoT connected devices, and as we look to rely more on these devices the danger of being hacked increases. An example of a possible nightmare scenario in the future could include terrorists hacking into biometric connected IoT devices causing chaos with a whole population’s health.

The Car Show

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone” highlights how automakers, all of whom were represented, are looking at the future of mobility. The talk of the show was Bell’s Nexus flying car, with the “car” to begin testing by 2023. If you think it looks like an osprey helicopter, you’d be correct as Bell has been manufacturing helicopters since WWII. We’re at the stage where many of our current forms of transportation are starting to mesh together. In addition, many of the automakers are looking at the future of mobility as a service business. It’s not just millennial’s preference for convenience over purchasing vehicles, it’s optimizing and reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Like IoT devices, vehicles and infrastructure will be vulnerable to hacking in which there will be life and death consequences if we don’t guard against attacks.

Defense tech continues towards consumerism

Robots and drones made up a major part of this consumer-focused 2019 show. Many of these technologies have their roots in the military and have moved from B2B/B2G to B2C in the last few years. In a real future meets reality moment, Russia based Hoversurf showcased transportation drones, aka hoverbikes, that could be used by law enforcement in the future. The technology could be used to stop illegal drone usage, as was the recent case when Gatwick airport was shut down due to drones. We’ll see where this trend goes as the cost to develop new technologies continues to plummet, and corporate budgets increase towards more innovative product development.

Global tech

Many countries invest resources at CES, focused on making inroads into the consumer tech space. Countries like Israel, “the Startup Nation,” represented not only officially with a large pavilion but also by a host of growth stage startups. Naturally, China had a major presence at CES with heavyweight tech companies Alibaba and Huawei hosting prominent booths. In the coming years we will see the trajectory of consumer hardware from Japan (ex., Sony) to Korea (ex., Samsung) to China, all amidst the trade war with the US. China’s neighbors have spent decades building profitable industries and are not going to lay down just because China is playing by its own (unfair) rules as was seen by the major presence Samsung and LG had at the show.

CES always kicks off the year with amazing tech that helps us improve our lives and shows us there is a lot to look forward to in 2019. While the 2019 conference was consumer focused, rest assured that all the tech executives in attendance were fully aware of the security challenges interconnected technology will bring this year. As we kick off 2019 know that when the need arises to make sense of the world Interfor is here to give you the most updated analysis.