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Locks and traditional alarms can’t keep cyber criminals out, but a University of Waikato researcher has developed an app that can raise the alarm if your home network 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. Dr Matthew Luckie, senior lecturer in Computer Science, has been awarded $997,182 to produce a system that will tell non-IT experts when their home network has been compromised, and identify the affected device.

Dr Luckie’s ‘NetStinky’ Android app has just been launched during Cybersmart Week. He says when the app starts, it will do a quick check to see if there’s anything associated with the network that suggests there is a problem. Then it sits in the background and users can hopefully forget about the fact it is there. “If there’s a problem it will alert you on your screen. You don’t need to obsessively check or anything, it will scan your network regularly.”

The system will build Cyber Capability in novice users, increasing New Zealand's cybersecurity at the household level.  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, enabling home router vendors to customise and include the software in their products.

If you are wondering about the name, NetStinky indicates that if devices inside a network are compromised, it is a signal of poor network hygiene.


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