When it comes to discussing the IoT Revolution, I would say, “It’s the best of the Internet, it’s the worst of the Internet.” My apologies to Charles Dickens, but I had to borrow that line from A Tale of Two Cities because it’s so appropriate when we consider the Internet of Things (also known as the IoT) phenomenon that promises to change our lives immeasurably and, hopefully, for the better.
The Best of IoT
The best of IoT brings us a highly-connected world that offers improved outcomes, control of costs, and time-savings using IoT devices. Nearly every industry will reap benefits from the IoT revolution. They include the:
- Healthcare Industry
- Medical devices, improved patient care and observation, remote diagnostic devices, elder monitoring, equipment monitoring
- Manufacturing Industry
- Connected equipment, lighting, security, robotics, energy usage, emergency alerts, signage, waste management, energy usage
- Transportation Industry
- Traffic monitoring, parking, shipping, public transportation, trains, planes, and automobiles
- Education Industry
- Smart whiteboards, cameras, DVRs, building access systems, security and fire alarms
- Consumers at Home
- Lighting, security, pet care, irrigation, alarm systems, heating and air conditioning, laundry room equipment, kitchen appliances
This is just the present, but we are looking at a future world where “everything is online” and that means lots of new applications with extraordinary benefits. Things that will make our lives easier and better by improving the efficiency and convenience of tasks and services. However, as seems to be true with every technological advancement and “game-changer,” there is a price to pay or a potential downside to “progress.”
The Worst of IoT
The worst of IoT comes in the form of increased vulnerability for an individual, an organization, or a government institution. IoT deployment creates more targets that are less protected. In other words, a larger attack surface for cybercriminals.
There are currently more Internet of Things (IoT) devices than there are people in the world. By 2020, billions of new connected devices will exponentially increase the number of targets for cyber-attackers. As businesses adopt IoT, security is often an afterthought, leaving these devices and the networks they are connected to severely under-protected and vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Below are some prime examples of the security issues that IoT devices are presenting us in different industries:
- General Enterprise: Concern for Consumer IoT Devices Joining Corporate Network
- At the RSA Conference 2016, corporate IT security leaders said they were “concerned that business data might be surreptitiously leaving the building without their knowledge” via employees using their personal IoT devices on the corporate network.
- Healthcare: Medical Device Hacks
- Hospitals are experiencing data breaches and their after-breach autopsies reveal that “their medical devices had been infected with malware backdoors to move laterally within” the hospitals’ networks. Examples of medical devices that have been hacked include blood gas analyzers, PACs, and x-ray machines.
- Manufacturing: Cyber-attacks on Manufacturers
- After the healthcare industry, the manufacturing industry is now attacked most often by cybercriminals. Reports say the main motivation for the attacks is to “steal potentially valuable intellectual property or sensitive information.” Manufacturers are not as prepared as the financial industries, so they present an easier target for hackers.
- Infrastructure: Digital Attacks are Leading to Real World Consequences
- Present and future warfare is going to include cyber-attacks on civilian infrastructures. For example, in December 2015, Ukraine power stations were knocked offline by attackers. In another case, according to a Verizon report, a water treatment plant was compromised and hackers changed “the chemical make-up of the water.”
- Transportation: Railroad Systems Are Vulnerable
- A European team of cybersecurity experts warned about security holes in railroad systems. One of the most frightening results could be the hacking of a computer-based interlocking system that is “a signaling system designed to prevent trains from running into each other.” If compromised, it could result in “serious problems, including physical damage.”
In order to get the most out of the Internet of Things Revolution, we are going to need IoT Security that will prevent all these connected assets from being hijacked and used for ill purposes. This is why ZingBox was founded and what motivates us: to help keep people safe and to get the most of their network connected devices.