It goes without saying that the IoT is the new frontier in our technological development. The boundless applications of the Internet of Things encompass a wide range of options from automation in agriculture to cutting-edge technology in the biomedical arena, smart cars, smart homes, and wearable tech. Developers, designers, and tech aficionados are scrambling to bring new products to market, and customers are eager to snap it all up.
Our anxiety to fast-track the next product often trumps the need for due diligence vis-a-vis the safety and security concerns of IoT devices. This begs the question: Are we barreling full steam ahead in pursuit of the latest and greatest technical wizardry, at the expense of our own safety and security?
To get a better grip on this topic, it’s important to scrutinize some of the security challenges that our technological advancements have created. Here are 5 bruising examples of how privacy, safety, and security have suffered in our pursuit of enhanced interconnectedness:
- Pacemakers Hacked? – In 2017 the FDA recalled approximately 500,000 pacemakers, fearing that they could easily be hacked by bad actors with remote devices.
- Casino Aquarium Hack – casinos are known to be particularly OCD about security. They are protected by hundreds of eyes in the sky, security control rooms, security officers, dealers, pit bosses, and managers. It is strange therefore that hackers used smart technology to access the cloud network of the casino via the aquarium’s thermometer. A security oversight on Wi-Fi allowed for the transmission of any type of data. This act didn’t prevent anyone from playing baccarat online, but it certainly raised many eyebrows in the online gaming community.
- Jeep Cherokee Hacked Remotely – this intentional security breach was done by Jeep to prove a point. Hackers performed rudimentary functions such as powering on the air conditioning unit, steering the vehicle, and turning the engine on/off. All of this was done via an online dashboard system known as Uconnect. Naturally, this raises alarm bells as many vehicle manufacturers are seeking to integrate smartphone technology into their vehicles.
- Mirai Malware – this code utilizes username/password combinations to access a variety of IoT devices. One of the most feared online attacks – a DDoS attack – can be performed by an agglomeration of bots, otherwise known as a botnet. Mirai Malware specifically targets high profile companies and government agencies, an example of which was the attack on Dyn in 2016.
- Stuxnet Worm – if this one sounds familiar, that’s because it was used by a crack team of tech wizards from Israel and the US to infiltrate the Iranian nuclear centrifuges. This IoT security breach attacked expensive machinery used in the production of enriched uranium. It specifically targets centrifuges and reprograms them, causing them to disintegrate.
Hot Trends with IoT Tech
The Internet of things is most pronounced in our most sacred domains, our homes. Nowadays, people are connecting their refrigerators, computers, wearable technology, AC units, boilers, pet feeders, aquariums, security systems, and entertainment systems via Internet routers to their smartphones. 2019 trends indicate a strong demand for video entertainment, smart speakers, smart lighting, home monitoring, thermostat control, and other applications. The comfort and convenience of interconnected devices is the sole focus, while the security of these connections is often overlooked.
Smart home systems may be safe overall, but the individual components on those systems may be subject to attack. For example, failure to update software on individual home systems can render them vulnerable to attack. Fortunately, there are several safeguards that can be implemented to beef up the security of interconnected devices, notably virtual private networks (VPNs) on routers, enhanced security control features such as password protectors, antivirus software, and constant updating of firmware. It is necessary to implement a holistic approach to IoT security, and engineers need to stay abreast of the latest security threats and challenges to protect users from being hacked.