By Bill Minahan | September 25, 2019 | 0 Comments
The Internet of Things (IoT) has come a long way since it was originally coined in 1999. The IoT in 2019 is a bridge that connects the physical world and the digital world. A bridge that’s made up of roughly 7 billion devices that connect to the internet independently of human action.
You can think of any device that generally shouldn’t have an internet connection, but does, as part of the IoT. For example, smart speakers (Alexa and Google), smartwatches, smart lights, even smart toasters, are common consumer IoT devices.
Once processors became affordable, millions of devices ranging from doorbells to dog collars were transformed using sensors, wireless networks, and data, into devices that could access the internet.
The IoT consists of autonomous “dumb” devices made smart.
Despite the popularity of consumer smart devices, corporations and cities are the main users of IoT technology.
IoT devices make it easier for consumers to control the devices in their houses and beyond: cooking equipment, radios, lights, cooling systems, etc.
Smart devices make it easier to listen to music, set timers, and get information.
Instead of scanning the radio or finding a song you want on an iPod, all a user has to say is ” Hey Alexa, play The Beatles.”
The main benefit of IoT technology to business is the ability to closely monitor their machines and products and make changes based on the data. The data shows what’s really happening, rather than what the business assumes or hopes is happening. It allows companies to create extremely responsive products and systems.
Manufacturers use IoT technology by adding sensors to components of their products or machines to track their performance. That way, they know if a part needs to be replaced before it stops working. The ability to use real-time data saves time and money.
Furthermore, entire cities are beginning to use IoT technology to cut costs and become more energy efficient. One example of this is smart lighting, which can remotely control and adjust street lighting based on conditions like occupancy and daylight availability.
The IoT allows us greater control and flexibility over our devices and technology.
However, in order to get something, we must give something up. In the case of the IoT, it’s security and privacy.
The IoT security track record is extremely poor. In fact, almost all IoT devices have security issues. Most lack basic security features like data encryption at transit and rest.
When security risks are publicly disclosed, it can make matters worse because many IoT devices can’t perform patches. Therefore, once a security flaw is exposed, the device is permanently at risk.
If the IoT is the bridge between the physical and digital world, then IoT security issues and cyber attacks can have real-life consequences.
The lack of security around IoT technology is alarming given the sensitive data it carries. Outsiders can gain access to your every move by hacking in to your smartwatch location or the microphones and cameras you’ve installed in your home or backyard.
For businesses the risks can be even worse, hackers have been able to remotely take over autonomous trucks and other machinery.
This year, a couple in Milwaukee had their home outsmarted by hackers. The couple installed a Nest camera, doorbell, and thermostat in their home in 2018. Which allowed them to add an extra level of security by giving them the ability to remotely monitor and control their home remotely.
Consumers often use IoT devices to enhance security, however, sometimes it can backfire.
In September 2019, they returned home to find their house at 90 degrees. As they turned the temperature back down it continued to rise.
Shortly after, they heard a voice talking through a camera in their kitchen—which then began to play vulgar music.
If this sounds like a horror movie to you, it did to the Westmorelands’ too.
“My heart was racing,” Samantha Westmoreland said. “I felt so violated at that point.”
The couple changed their passwords, but the problems persisted. The cyber criminal had hacked their WiFi, and then their Nest. Therefore, changing their passwords didn’t revoke the hacker’s access.
They’re not alone. Any smart home that hosts smart devices and IoT devices are vulnerable to cyber attacks and can have their devices taken over remotely by cyber criminals.
However, the breach didn’t come from the Nest in this case. In fact, the cyber attack was a result of a compromised password from an earlier data breach. Unfortunately, the attack took advantage of their weak password.
With all the recent data breaches, millions of passwords are accessible online, and users aren’t even aware of it.
If you’re reusing passwords, then you’re leaving your devices and accounts open for cyber criminals to attack. Learn how to make sure you’re using a strong password here.
In a statement by a Nest representative they said, “In nearly all cases, two-factor authentication eliminates this type of security risk.”
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a free and easy way to protect yourself and your devices from cyber criminals. Read more about MFA here.
aNetworks, Inc. offers complete cyber security solutions: MFA, strong password generation, and awareness training.
With more devices connected to the internet, the more likely cyber attacks become. However, awareness is the first and most important step.
If you want to further discuss how to secure your business and your devices, take our free cyber security assessment.