What Is The Internet of Things (IoT)
The internet of things (IoT) is a pretty easy concept to understand however it has pretty large implications for the security world as a whole. the Iot simply refers to all of the devices that use the internet to function or send and receive data. This network contains billions of devices all across the world from your fit bit all the way to your toaster. In fact by 2021 there will be roughly 35 billion devices installed across the globe. The purposes of these devices is often to make life easier in our households or to assist in our work lives. Every single one of us has interacted with a device on the IoT before.
What Makes Up The Internet of Things?
Household Internet of Things
As previously mentioned the internet of things is made up of billions of devices all equipped with sensors connecting them to the internet. However, there are a multitude of different types of these devices. Some household devices connected to the IoT include products such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or even some refrigerators and Smart T.V.s. If a light bulb in your house is controlled through your smartphone then it is also considered a part of the IoT. You may even be able to lock your doors or change the temperature in your house through a device connected to the internet. Devices like these can help make our lives much more convenient and can help us with our everyday tasks.
Industrial Internet of Things
Additionally, the industrial internet of things takes those sensors and connects them to machines working in the manufacturing field. Using sensors connected the physical machines they store data and use AI to perform actions that include predicting when equipment is in need of fixing or when it will most likely breakdown. The IIoT can help save companies time while also protecting workers.
Internet of Medical Things
Another sub area of the IoT is the Internet of Medical Things. As healthcare continues to evolve more and more devices will be equipped with sensors and connections to the internet in order to help in the medical field. Such devices can help transmit patient data, determine diagnosis’ faster as well as save billions in the healthcare industry. Certain IoT devices in the medical field are typically used for remote monitoring and can be connected to applications that submit patient data and recommend courses of treatment. Additionally, many patients with diabetes use IoT devices to monitor and record glucose levels which can be difficult to keep up with manually. Overall these medical devices can aid in creating an efficient healthcare system.
So How Secure Is It?
While devices connected into the Internet of Things make life more convenient, efficient, and in some case cheaper it does beg the question: How safe are they?
With so many devices in our everyday lives connected to a network of some kind it’s important to ask whether or not these devices put us at more risk than we bargained for. Unfortunately the answer to the above question is pretty concerning. Most cyber security experts believe that the IoT is wildly unsecured and can pose some pretty dangerous risks. For starters, while devices such as smart phones are laptops get security updates every other week other devices like your T.V. or smart fridge will rarely see a software patch. Devices like smart phones or PC’s will also only be in use for a few years while your washer or dryer is built to last for a while. If you’re using a device for six or seven years you want it to be updated regularly. You can even take it a step further and look at how some of the most recently released cars are connecting to the internet or using self driving technology.
What happens if a cyber criminals gets control of one of these devices? While turning the radio on and off may seem like only a nuisance what happens when they get control of the brake system? Most companies are concerned with getting new technology out on the market fast without much concern for security risks. This will most likely lead to large scale attacks on IoT devices in the future as cyber criminals start realizing how easy it is to exploit them.
How Can I Protect Myself?
While it is impossible to just avoid any piece of technology connected to the IoT there are simple and practical things you can do to reduce your attack surface. Using Multi-factor authentication for all applications can help secure your login credentials and make sure you aren’t letting anyone into your accounts. Additionally, it is always important that you keep all of your devices updated regularly. While it may be tempting to hit “remind me later” this could lead to a larger cyber risk in the future. Lastly, adopting good password’s, increased monitoring, and securing your internet connection can be practical ways to strengthen your security.
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