The internet of things (IoT) refers to a technology that allows devices to connect and exchange data with each other via the internet. The devices could be anything from a child’s toy to the microwave in your kitchen or alarm in your car. The concept of IoT started off as a half-baked idea back in the late 20th century, but has now grown to being the future of our very livelihood. This is mainly due to remarkable technological advancements and fast-growing consumer adaptability.
An infographic published on Safeatlast.co reveals that the number of connected IoT devices stood at 25 billion in the year 2015. Due to the strong backing from government organizations and major network providers such as Google and Amazon, this number is guaranteed to grow to 50 billion devices by the year 2020.
The potential for IoT implementation is immeasurable. IoT is likely to lead to increased efficiency and productivity, reduced crime rates as well as accidents resulting from human error. However, the success of IoT implementation at global levels is under constant threat from breach of privacy and data security. Here are the major reasons why IoT device security is important.
Data Is More Valuable Than Anything Else
Remember the phrase, “knowledge is power”? IoT devices have taken its meaning to new heights. IoT technology has been adapted in different sectors. Governments have adopted the use of IoT devices in their agency operations such as the use of military drones while hospitals and other medical institutions use IoT devices to provide top-notch healthcare services. For instance, the BBC reported that biosensors are now being used in smart bras to detect breast cancer in its early stages.
These IoT devices are meant to share such data with other devices across different sectors. Take the smart car business, for example? Smart car manufacturers create them with the ability to capture data meant for car-to-car communication, traffic compliance and smart parking services. Car insurance companies also may have interest in such data when determining whether the policy holder can claim compensation in case of an accident.
The vast amount of data shared across different IoT devices makes these devices a target for hackers, fraudsters and other unethical users interested in such data. If this data falls in the wrong hands, it could compromise entire companies and government agencies.
IoT Device Vulnerabilities Encourage Hackers
IoT tech is still in its developing stages. Smartphones and computers have existed for a long time; hence, manufacturers and software developers have had time to address the vulnerabilities associated with their data breach. IoT devices, on the other hand, serve different purposes and have different capabilities. Take the development of a baby monitor, for example. Manufacturers still face challenges such as lack of adequate hardware that is powerful enough to analyze and encrypt data yet small enough to fit inside the limited space. Hackers can access your home Wi-Fi network through such unsecured devices and use the chance to monitor your home surveillance camera to commit a crime.
Additionally, IoT manufacturers base their programming protocols on their host’s ecosystem such as Google, Apple and Amazon. The lack of synchrony across platforms limits the ability of developers to create a universal security protocol. This, in turn, grants hackers multiple platforms from which they can breach the devices and steal data worth billions.
Hackers Compromise the Goal of IoT Implementation
The end goal of adopting IoT devices across multiple sectors is to create a wholly integrated smart city. With this integration, any device used in a manufacturing industry can connect to another being used by government agencies, medical healthcare providers, businesses or even your home network. However, the law is yet to develop privacy protection laws that cover all vulnerabilities across the different sectors. Hackers continue to exploit this loophole leading to the loss of revenue already invested into the venture.
It is a no brainer that IoT is the future of our world. However, manufacturers and software developers need to secure its data for realization of a smarter, safer and more efficient world.
— Ana Bera