Technology is becoming cheaper, more reliable, faster and more accessible, and as a result we are all owning more devices. Some estimates suggest that we will have 50 billion connected devices by the end of 2020, which equates to about 8 per person on the planet.
‘The IoT refers to the connection of devices (other than typical fare such as computers and smartphones) to the Internet. Cars, kitchen appliances, and even heart monitors can all be connected through the IoT.’
We also know that the number of cyber-attacks that are happening each year is on the rise. Any internet search will display millions of results explaining the reasons behind this trend, the financial implications of an attack, and what people are doing to mitigate the problem.
So, the big question is: As we increase our global connections through the Internet of Things (IoT), will incidents of attacks also increase at the same rate?
The IoT is a network of internet-connected devices, and one thing that affects all such networks regardless of simplicity, application or industry, is that they are susceptible to cyber-attacks. The number of attacks against IoT devices is on the rise. One estimate suggests that the attacks on IoT devices had risen by 280% during the first three months of 2017.
Computer systems can be found all over the world, at the heart of most businesses, governments and homes. They play an important role in how we live our daily lives and they allow us to communicate with people across the globe and even into space. Using computers enables people to collaborate on projects of all sizes, reach new heights and make important discoveries.
The IoT not only opens a world of possibilities, but it also brings along a host of security issues. These devices all rely on a network connection. Some are hardwired, others use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or cellular. These all provide potential entry points for someone to ‘hack’ into. Each device should come with some security by default, as manufactures do not want to be responsible for their devices being vulnerable to attack. However, it has been proven that many devices are still vulnerable despite their efforts.
An example of this is the Phillips Hue lighting system. The Hue devices communicate using AES keys to begin with, however once paired to a hub they no longer use encryption. This makes it potentially possible for anyone with network access to listen, capture and replicate the requests from the hub. This would enable the malicious user to control the lighting system.
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Will attacks stay in proportion?
IoT will, and has already, open a whole new avenue for attacks. However, if the number of devices we currently have doubles, it would not necessarily mean that the number of attacks will also double. Many manufactures of IoT devices are working hard to secure their current devices and improve security for the next generation. Better security on these devices will mean that although attacks are happening, they will hopefully be less successful. It can safely be assumed that the IoT will mean more attacks will happen, the extent to which cannot be accurately estimated. Indeed, current predictive figures regarding this vary greatly.