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Lee software developer wins national 'Internet of Things' contest

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

August 13. 2017 10:34PM
Software developer Steve Castle, a University of New Hampshire graduate, won $25,000 in the Federal Trade Commission's Internet of Things Home Device Security Contest with his loT Watchdog app. (KIMBERLY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

LEE — A 31-year-old software developer from Lee has won $25,000 in the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet of Things Home Device Security Contest.

Steve Castle, a University of New Hampshire graduate, says he created loT Watchdog because seemingly innocent products can be turned against consumers if they are publicly accessible on the internet. Castle used the examples of gaming devices, home security systems and baby cameras.

“You can find out when somebody’s generally home, or you could just cause havoc,” Castle said in an interview last week.

The more information criminals collect, Castle said, the more likely they are to be able to steal your identity.

“Most of the time, they generally don’t care who you are. A criminal is going to look for the easiest way to get into your house,” Castle said.

The FTC launched the contest in January to challenge innovators to develop a tool that would help address security vulnerabilities of devices.

Castle’s proposed mobile app was chosen by a panel of five judges because it is designed to help users easily determine if their devices are out of date or if their networks are insecure. It would enable users with limited technical expertise to scan their home Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks, and it would flag devices with vulnerabilities, according to a news release issued by the FTC.

“Congratulations to Mr. Castle and thanks to all participants in our contest. Their innovative ideas will help consumers secure their devices and aid the growth of the loT overall,” acting FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen said in a statement. “The full promise of the Internet of Things could be lost if consumers do not trust their devices.”

The Internet of Things, an array of billions of everyday objects sending and receiving data over the internet, is expanding rapidly with the adoption of applications such as health and fitness monitors, home security devices, connected cars and household appliances, according to FTC officials.

Castle said he is exploring what the possibilities for his app are, and says there are a few different directions the technology could go. He says the most important thing is to keep the loT Watchdog accessible to the public because a majority of people cannot afford sophisticated monitoring software.


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