The Internet of Things (IoT) is an ever-popular and growing technology in our lives; from our offices, homes, cars, and even our digital wearables. This digital network of connected devices is expanding so rapidly that it is estimated that active, connected devices will reach 40.9 billion by 2020. There are many positives in the expansion of the IoT. It gives us the capability to remain connected at all times and to efficiently manage a vast number of automated network devices, such as operating machinery in factories and precise medical devices in hospital operating theatres.
However, with the increased use of IoT comes unique security challenges. IoT is an attractive target for hackers and cybercriminals. A large number of connected devices means more attack vectors and more opportunities for cybercriminals. The issue of IoT security needs to be addressed rapidly with more vulnerabilities found every day. Some high profile and well-publicized breaches include the hacking of baby monitors, vehicle electronics, wearables such as FitBits, hospital medical devices, and even fish tanks.
From the start of a device’s lifecycle, security should be a primary concern during development employing methods such as access control, data encryption, device authentication, and updates and patches. End users, corporates, and nations have quite publicly suffered significant damage from the result of poor computer and network security. The huge number of IoT devices means that if the necessary steps are not taken to improve IoT security, then IoT devices have the capability to cause even further damage. The majority of potential harm is preventable by instituting mandatory security standards during the development, manufacturing, and supply process stages along with the issuing of guidance on best security practices to end users.
As the public becomes increasingly dependent on connected devices, we need to consider how to protect billions of devices from cybercriminals intruding our privacy and threatening the safety of the public.