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App to secure home networks from breach

Cyber criminals cannot be kept out of the house with locks and traditional alarms. But a University of Waikato researcher has developed an app that helps in preventing them from coming in.

According to a recent report, the app, which is called NetStinky, can raise the alarm if the home network of an individual has been breached.

The key emerging threat for the Internet is the prevalence of compromised systems operated by novice end users inside home networks, especially Internet-of-Things devices.

A senior lecturer in Computer Science, at the University, was awarded NZ$ 997,182 from the 2017 Endeavour Fund to produce a system that will tell non-IT experts when their home network has been compromised.

The app is also capable of identifying which is the affected device.

NetStinky is an Android app that was launched during the Cyber Smart Week. When the application starts, it will do a quick check to see if there is anything associated with the network that would suggest that there is a problem.

It checks the Wi-Fi network the user is connected to for publicly-reported indications of compromise, such as sending spam, taking part in bot-nets, or making outgoing hacking attempts.

It will then sit in the background and users can eventually forget about the fact that it is there.

It will then periodically check for indications of compromise and alert the user if the network shows signs of being compromised.

If there is a problem, it will show an alert on the screen. There is no need to obsessively check the app as it will scan the network on regular intervals on its own.

The system will help in building Cyber Capability in novice users. This will therefore increase the cybersecurity of New Zealand at the household level.

Moreover, it will investigate how users remediate in response to notification, and the findings will be published in appropriate peer-reviewed venues.

The source code for the home router intrusion detection software will also be published using a permissive open-source license.

This capability will enable home router vendors to customise and include the software in their products.

The name NetStinky indicates that if devices inside a network are compromised, it is a signal of poor network hygiene.

According to an earlier report, the Cyber Smart Week is New Zealand’s cyber security awareness week. The launching of the NetStinky app during this week is very apt.

The event is on its second year, organised by CERT NZ, in collaboration with more than 70 public and private sector partners to help keep Kiwis safe online.

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