If you’re a fan of science fiction movies that promote the thought of the whole world becoming automated in the near future, then you’re very much into the concept of IoT as well. Internet of Things, or in short IoT is the rave of the world for the last couple of years, both its positive sides, as well as its potentially catastrophic downsides.
Internet Of Things is a promise of the world in which not only will humans use internet connection to communicate with each other and look for information, but devices will be able to do that as well. This concept has already taken root in reality and there are smart homes springing up all over the planet, where the chores, the cooking, even your meals are made by interconnected home appliances, from your refrigerator to your vacuum cleaner. More and more major companies are incorporating IoT into their everyday processes and tasks, and if done correctly, devices once programmed and working on their own, offer incredible benefits to their owners. Needless to say that this new reality sounds tempting, but there’s another side of the coin that needs to be considered as well.
Seeing that IoT isn’t World Wide Web and that the expansion of Internet of Things will practically establish a network of its own, there’s a whole set of security problems that needs to be addressed. While it’s easy to romanticize the thought of having technology do everything for us, one should always bear in mind that it leaves a lot of room for privacy breaches and new forms of surveillance that haven’t been discovered yet. With that in mind, we’ll discuss six security weak points in IoT devices that everyone should know of before they venture into the Internet of Things.
1. It All Starts With Manufacturers
We’ll start from the origin story of the IoT technology, and that are devices’ manufacturer companies. We’re not just talking about mobile devices, laptops and PCs, we’re talking about literally any device that works on electricity or batteries. Loving the possibility of IoT and all the perks it has for its sales, manufacturers make these devices first and foremost to be useful. Useful they are and we’re amazed with how much technology has progressed as well as what are the possibilities for the future, but how much do we think about security? How much do manufacturers think about it?
The usual practice is that a device is made and brought to the market without the security of it being seriously thought through, and only when security issues emerge do the companies deal with them. This policy won’t do at all in the IoT world, where literally our whole lives will be scattered through our devices and disrupting them will be incredibly easy by hacking only one of the devices (say, your toaster) to gain access to the entirety of your IoT network. Manufacturers will have to design new IoT devices with security protection very much in mind if the system is to work for many years to come.
2. Is There Such Thing As Too Much Access?
We’re already being negligent when it comes to the internet security on our mobile devices and more often than not, it is incredibly easy to hack into our smartphones, steal our passwords and let hackers do what they will with our sensitive data. Now think about all the devices, your front door lock, even your car being on the same network – how easy would be it be do break into it?
Even bigger threats lurk on organizations that are automating their entire work systems. If IT experts of the company don’t thoroughly examine the IoT technology they’re installing, very soon the software could allow itself much more access than it’s supposed to have, and then all you need are experienced hackers to turn the whole company upside down, and ruin it, if they so desire. Access of IoT devices should at all times be strictly monitored (at least until some solid security systems are devised), otherwise either your company or your whole life will quickly become easy pray for cybercriminals.
4. VPN Doesn’t Make You Completely Secure
While using virtual private networks (VPNs) to remain under the radar while surfing the World Wide Web is a valid form of protection, things change when it comes to IoT. Having a VPN for your interconnected devices sounds good in theory, but when put to use, it shows significant shortcomings.
VPN encrypts the network on your mobile devices or your laptop, and is excellent at doing that, but only if it covers one or a couple of devices. With IoT, your virtual private network will have to protect more than a few devices that can be found in your home, your workplace or you take them everywhere you go. When you use a VPN, it can provide your IoT network with an encrypted wall around it, so that no one can see exactly what is happening within it, and so-called nodes (which is every device that is connected to the network) inside that wall are all in one basket, so to speak. This means that the wall is only as strong as its weakest link and if one device gets hacked, all others within the wall are open for the taking with zero effort. This is why a new system should be devised, a new generation of VPN if you will, that will keep in check both the whole network and every device in itself protected.
5. The Amount Of Data Will Increase By A Lot
This is probably a given, but once you start syncing and automating your devices, they will gather information that will later be used for the purposes of improving their IoT system. Needless to say, there will be a lot of data and unless you configure your network to deal with it timely, you’ll face difficulties like denial of service because your network just can’t handle it. Now think about what cybercriminals could do with that amount of information on you and all you do and you’ll understand why this is definitely one the security weak points for IoT devices.
6. Connection Of New Devices On Your IoT Network
This can prove to be a significant problem in companies that are becoming more and more IoT oriented. There’s really no way to constrict your employees to bring their own devices and use them at work, but you should come up with a strategy to keep your security under control. All you need is one security-compromised device to wreck havoc on the whole IoT system, which is why you should take precautions like establishing a network for devices that are solely inside your company’s IoT network and creating a separate network, which will be for guest device usage only.
The world of IoT has a lot to offer to every one of us, but it should be approached with a pinch of salt. There are predictions suggesting that by 2020, there will be twenty billion devices connected to IoT worldwide. That certainly is an impressive number, but we should first establish security protocols before we get too carried away.