Technology and electronic products

The recent WannaCry ransomware cyberattack provided another chilling reminder of the potential disruptive power behind the Internet of Things. Even before the WannaCry attack in May 2017, a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on a domain name server provider, Dyn, Inc., took place in October 2016, pushing many popular internet services offline for hours. The Dyn attack, which utilized the malware Mari as the supporting agent, was a sea-change event carried out by hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices, such as routers, security cameras and DVRs, that rely on default factory user names and passwords coupled with weak or nonexistent security protections. It illustrated that hackers can now target vulnerable low-hanging fruit and turn it into a super botnet to carry out the DDoS attack. One takeaway from the Dyn attack is that the exponential growth of devices coming online, some 5.5 million per day according to Gartner, creates an unparalleled ecosystem for malevolent actors to find and weaponize the Internet of Things (IoT).
Continue Reading The Internet of Things: A Trifecta of Cyber and Physical Threat Risks

Mini segway or hover board scooterSince our last blog post on lithium-ion batteries, there has been a report that a self-balancing scooter, known as a hoverboard, is the suspected cause for a March 10, 2017, fatal fire that occurred in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The fire resulted in the death of a three-year-old girl. Fire origin and cause experts are still investigating, but statements from persons who escaped the home indicate that a charging hoverboard “exploded” and caused the fire.
Continue Reading Lithium-Ion Batteries: Hoverboard Suspected in Fatal Fire

493279659They are everywhere: in your pocket, in your car, in your hands, in your lap and even “in your face.” Lithium-ion batteries are in nearly every product that has become a staple of modern life, such as smartphones, tablets/notebook computers, digital cameras and headphones. They are in our transportation systems – trains, planes and automobiles. They are involved in our hobbies and recreation, including radio-controlled vehicles, hoverboards and e-bikes. They also show up in some of our vices, such as vaping and smoking e-cigarettes. Though we typically view the batteries and the products they power as innocuous, if something goes wrong it can go catastrophically wrong.
Continue Reading Lithium-Ion Batteries: Small Products, Big Exposures

532174354When the failure of a smart product leads to a fire, the challenge of how smart home applications should be evaluated and examined as a potential cause becomes a more complex undertaking than the failure of a similar but dumb product.
 
Continue Reading The Impact of the Smart Home Revolution on Product Liability and Fire Cause Determinations

Not surprisingly, following on the heels of various accounts and reports of fires caused by hoverboards, ten manufacturers, distributors and retailers have issued an official recall of 501,000 hoverboards in the United States coordinated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Continue Reading U.S. CPSC Oversees Recall of Hoverboards Citing Risks Associated with Lithium-ion Battery Packs