Imagine arriving home after a tricky day at work: the lights in your living room are automatically dimmed just the way you like, your favorite music is already playing in the background and the room temperature is perfect. All without you ever having to touch a thing.
The Internet of Things is a network of smart devices connected to the Internet which interact and exchange data between themselves. We can remotely manage and control them, and they are now used in homes, offices, mom-and-pop shops and in government facilities.
We call them smart – smart TVs, smart cars, smart refrigerators, smart meters – because they all have mini-computers within them which don’t require manual interaction to function.
Today, there are almost 26 billion smart devices installed around the world and counting – that’s about 4 times more than all smartphones and computers put together! Predictions say by 2026 these numbers will triple. They can make lives easier, help in many areas and make us feel good. But are they really that smart?
Given all the blessings that IoT provides, their biggest curse is a lack of security.
Hijacked coffee machines may be a problem in terms of security of your username, password, or credit card details. If they get stolen, it can mean trouble. But imagine someone hijacking your smart car. This is much more problematic and can be life threatening. Or what about a cybercriminal who hacks a CCTV camera system in a crowded office and the smart devices in your local hospital. Now the consequences of failure aren’t just bits and bytes… they are flesh and blood.
The relatively recent emergence of IoT makes it difficult for the industry to keep up with appropriate security measures. There are no rules or checklists the manufacturers must follow, there are very few standards. And cybersecurity is rarely baked-in.
What’s more, users are not fully aware of the complexity of the problem and buy these devices without thinking about some consequences. It’s like buy-one-IoT-device, get a free CVE!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using these smart devices:
The Internet of Things is a very new phenomenon and one that is around to stay. We all have to learn how to make the most of it and stay safe at the same time. It’s finding the balance between security and convenience that helps you use cool technology with peace of mind!