Protecting Lone Worker Technology from the Hacker

May 2019

An interesting article in The Register recently highlighted how certain GPS devices are vulnerable to being hacked, and in so doing, inadvertently reveal the device location and enable an attacker to listen in.  Apart from privacy issues, this exposes the user to a range of vulnerabilities.  Users may be astonished to find that the device they bought to provide safety and protection often has no defence against the risk of such hostile activity. 

Given the heightened awareness of the threat posed by hackers, it would be reasonable to assume that suppliers would put the subject at the top of the agenda when new products are being evaluated.  But in most cases, these devices are shipped by the manufacturer to the local distributor, who in turn resells to the end user, without any modifications to the original firmware and without making changes to the default settings.  The manufacturer cannot usually be expected to have a detailed understanding of how their products may be used across a range of different markets and contexts.  It therefore falls to the reseller to ensure that the product supplied not only matches its description but is also fit for its intended purpose.      

When a new product or software application is evaluated or developed at Bold, performance is important, but is only one of a number of considerations.  It is also essential that full life cost, return on investment, level of support required and security of the new development all meet a required benchmark.  In the case of the BoldSafe GPS lone worker and telecare device, this means making hardware modifications and custom firmware, as well as implementing a secure and effective programming process.  All this means that by the time the user receives the device, it has been configured, tested and security protected.  While no security process can ever claim to be 100% effective, however rigorous, we believe there are many easier targets to hack than BoldSafe.      

This episode is a good example of how products which all seem to do roughly the same job can nevertheless be quite different.  It also demonstrates how doing some investigation before purchase, and even sometimes paying a little more for a better service, can pay off in the long run.

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