Cyber Security and the Internet of Things

Cyber Security and the Internet of Things

The increasing emergence of the Internet of Things brings a proliferation of security issues. Millions of internet-connected devices (Kettles, baby monitors etc) are sold with either no protection or simple security logins. Though some manufacturers have gone to the extent of recalling affected devices, the fact that software patches could not be rolled out remotely is alarming for future vulnerability management.

“70% of the most commonly used IoT devices contain vulnerabilities”

HP Study

What is the biggest difference between the Internet of Things and the traditional internet? – Human intervention. With the IoT, sensors collect, communicate, analyse and act on information. This all functions without human intervention.  As a result, if these devices are not connected securely they are especially vulnerable to cyber-attacks and issues. This creates new opportunities for all the data stored to be compromised. Not only is lots of data being shared through the IoT, but more sensitive data is being shared. As a result, the risks are exponentially greater.

An illustrative example could be a smart home. Many electric garage doors have an added functionality to deactivate the home alarm upon entry. However, this means the entire alarm system could potentially be deactivated when only the garage door opener is compromised. Therefore making unauthorised entry to the home easily accessible after this seemingly simple cyber breach.

The Australian and American governments are looking at drawing up some sort of baseline security standard for these devices. Mandating this kind of protection is really going to be the key method for keeping consumers safe. Otherwise any measures will be unlikely to make their way in to cheap unbranded products.

“The interconnected nature of IoT devices and their intrusion in to the digitisation of our homes and personal spaces means that they need to be inherently trusted and trustworthy, and given the current state of IoT security much must still be done to achieve this state of play”.

Ryan Farmer, Acumin Salary Survey 2017-2018

Given the intrusive nature of some IoT products, including alarm systems, children’s toys and camera-enabled baby monitors, security should be integral. Industry must dictate a minimum standard for these devices to meet, and they must be patchable via OTA updates.

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