Imagine this. When your alarm clock wakes you up at 6:00am, it notifies your coffee maker to begin brewing coffee. After, the coffee makers signals your shower to turn on, so the temperature is perfect when you enter. When you leave your house, the mapping software on your phone calculates the best route without morning traffic. Once you start the car, the mapping software has already talked to the car instructing it on the fastest route to work. The route is updated, and you’re ready to go.
Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting devices like never before.
Twenty years ago, it wasn’t possible to steal your Google gmail password through your phone, or have your home security system discreetly spying on you. These James Bond-type of episodes are becoming more popular as our devices become more connected.
IoT is defined as the connection of any device with an on and off switch to the internet and to each other.
This includes your coffee maker, computer, phone, but it can also include consumer cars and jet airplanes. The story at the beginning of this blog post doesn’t seem too far into the future. The analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 we will have over 26 billion connected devices.
The development of interconnectivity between devices isn’t just your coffee brewing upon waking up. It’s more. IoT will connect people and companies alike and help them make more accurate decisions. This will reduce operating costs and increase business efficiency in real-time.
This sounds like a technology revolution, but where does cyber security get involved?
Cyber security does need to be involved. 96% of IT professionals expect to see an increase in security attacks on IoT this year. According to Gartner, more than half of new business processes and systems will incorporate the IoT by 2020. As devices become more connected, we’ll need to analyze and adopt new approaches to safeguard our assets.
Target is a prime example of the importance of developing cyber security measures for IoT devices. When 40 million credit card numbers were stolen from US retailer Target in 2013, the vulnerability of IoT connectivity rose to the surface. Hackers gained access through internet-enabled heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems set up in the stores. It took one small infrastructure hole for malicious criminals to find a new entrance to the system.
In this new future, we’ll need to learn to navigate the endless sea of data and keep it safe. Without proper security, the vulnerability of holes within the network will enlarge with the expanded surface area, and hackers will have more opportunities to enter. More connected devices, means more attack vectors and more opportunities for hackers to invade. Every business device will have an opportunity to invade and undermine the IT infrastructure, company information, or personal data of the user. The need is more urgent than ever before. Are we opening a pandora’s box? We might be, but time will only tell for IoT devices.
The best advice now is to learn, and find ways to ensure that your current devices don’t pose a security threat.
When your device alerts you to update it, update it. Don’t wait. It will be a nightmare keeping these millions of devices updated and free of security bugs, and navigating the endless see of data to look for suspicious activity. But, regular and consistent security updates for IoT devices is and will continue to be the first line of defense in data security. The future of IoT is exciting, but we’ll have to continue to research and realize the long-lasting effects this technology will have on the future.