The Internet of Things has the exciting potential to change our lives by keeping us connected to useful information at all times. It’s estimated that 5.5 million new objects join the network each and every day, from wearable devices to cars or medical equipment. These provide us with a stream of real-time data, improving efficiency at work and at home. Yet at the same time, being constantly connected to the internet carries with it a whole new set of security challenges. When all of our information was kept on a physical PC, all you had to worry about was securing this single device. Now, with data stored in the cloud and transmitted via wireless connections, there are seemingly infinite areas to secure. So how can we manage to benefit from the IoT while still keeping our data safe?
IoT Security Risks
The major reason why the IoT presents a safety challenge is that there are multiple points of vulnerability. If a device is connected remotely to a network, hackers have multiple opportunities to access the data that is transferred back and forth. One example of how this has worked in the past was the major hack of US retailer Target back in 2013. Hackers were able to access internet-connected heating and cooling systems in the retail stores to steal 40 million customer credit card numbers. Automated systems like this are certainly convenient, but they can also open up new loopholes for criminals to exploit. As entire cities become connected to the Internet of Things, including homes, offices, governments, and transportation systems, this creates massive safety risks.
A Change in Security Priorities
As a result, security experts are changing their priorities when it comes to securing the Internet of Things. Data security will be an issue, as it has long been. With RFID tags added to everyday objects, data becomes more vulnerable. Privacy risks will be an issue as there will be multiple points of data to secure, so as new objects are designed it’s important to think about how the data could impact personal privacy. Another issue is the route that the data takes. At the moment, many connected objects send the data to a hub, where it is stored before being uploaded in bulk. These intermediary hubs must be secured properly. One big shift that we’re likely to see as the IoT becomes more commonplace is an emphasis on object security rather than network security. At first, these intermediary hubs will be secured, but eventually tight-knit security will be built directly into each connected object.
Despite the challenges, there are numerous ways the organisations can start implementing new security in place. You can take advantage of Nokia Networks IoT as it grows, or current connected devices, while keeping data safe. The key is to educate all users properly. Be sure that security features are built into the objects that you’re using, rather than just the network, and make sure that everyone in the organisation is briefed about best security practices. Change passwords regularly, just as you would with any other network. Be mindful of privacy issues and where you store data, and stay on top of the latest security risks. If you use IoT devices, always update them with the latest security features if free updates are offered, just as you would with any software or mobile app.
By making a conscious effort to be mindful of the way you use the IoT, you can start to protect yourself from its inherent risks.