CRN Exclusive: Avira Unveils SafeThings Software Application For IoT Security, Looks To Build Out Channel

Avira, an Internet of Things security company, Monday launched an IoT security offering – dubbed SafeThings – for connected home applications.

SafeThings is a software application that can be built into homes' routers and initially is targeted at ISPs and router manufacturers. With SafeThings, consumers won’t have to buy an additional IoT hardware box.

“We wanted to create an innovative router app and behavioral threat intelligence platform that secures all IoT devices in the home,” said Andrei Petrus, head of product at Avira’s Open Innovation Unit. “SafeThings goes on the router, has no impact on the performance of it, and has zero impact on the traffic. Its role is to collect the data on the network – checking who talks to who on what service – and makes a behavior report based on this.”

[Related: Francisco Partners Acquires IoT Security Company Comodo's SSL Business, Bill Holtz Appointed CEO]

Avira SafeThings is now available to ISPs and equipment manufacturers, said Petrus. But looking ahead, the Germany-based company will use SafeThings as a launching pad for a global go-to-market channel in the second quarter of 2018, he said.

“The IoT security market has a huge channel potential … we are currently assessing that and hope to tap into it in the second stage of the product launch,” he said. “We see there are a lot of channel companies with strong ties to router manufacturers … they are already providing connectivity technology and silicon help in that area. ... That’s one of the bridges that will have a huge potential to be strong.”

SafeThings includes modular elements, such as applied artificial intelligence and machine learning from SafeThings Protection Cloud. Artificial intelligence enables the application to quickly identify and stop hijacked device activity, without a static list of domain names.

SafeThings also includes an agent at the gateway with SafeThings Sentinel, which is embedded in the firmware on the router to fingerprint IoT devices and collect metadata for AI analysis.

After communicating with the Avira Protection Cloud, Sentinel enforces protection and communication rules, according to Petrus.

Meanwhile, the SafeThings User Interface, available as a web app, allows users to see in real time what each IoT device in their network is doing so that they can view and modify firewall policies and device rules.

For instance, the application on a router could help analyze the behavior of a smart thermostat in a home. If SafeThings detects that the thermostat has started to exchange information with a host in China through a port, the software will look deeper into that behavior to detect if the IoT device has had an update or changed users. If the answers are no, it can deduce something is wrong with the thermostat and isolate the compromised part of the communication, so the risk will be covered in near real time, said Petrus.

Security vulnerabilities in IoT devices were underscored in October 2016 when a DDoS attack – which was launched through IoT devices including webcams, routers and video recorders – overwhelmed servers at Dynamic Network Services, taking down up to 1,200 websites.

 “We've designed SafeThings to effectively solve the IoT vulnerabilities without being too invasive, expensive or complicated for the end user – and we've done this in a way that provides additional benefits for the internet service providers and router manufacturers," said Travis Witteveen, CEO of Avira, in a statement.

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