Internet of Things (IoT) Security- The Challenges and Pitfalls
Mar 7, 2016
Internet of Things (IoT) Security- The Challenges and Pitfalls
Mar 7, 2016

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Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly becoming a phenomenon that is taking over our everyday lives. Mundane objects such as vehicles, household appliances, office appliances and even buildings are now becoming digitally connected, enabling intercommunication and autonomous machine-to-machine data transfer. The growth of IoT is moving at a dangerously fast pace, and it has recently been suggested that the number of active wirelessly connected devices will exceed 40 billion by 2020. Rapid adoption of IoT means that these devices are attractive targets for criminals.

Recent vulnerabilities in IoT devices, continue to highlight the seriousness of enhancing and improving the security of these devices. Earlier this month it was reported that a number of baby monitors were being compromised, enabling hackers to change camera settings, monitor live feeds and provide access to other hackers to monitor live feeds. The security of internet-connected cars was also under scrutiny recently, when it was revealed that a number of malicious activities enabled hackers to take control of entertainment systems and even shut down cars in motion. Malicious actives such as these are now also posing great threats to health. Wearables such as the Apple Watch, and Android Wear are being compromised to enable hackers to use the motion sensors within these devices to steal information and even health data. Some hacks involve medical devices which could have consequences on patients’ health.

It is not the first time that these sorts of issues have arisen. When the US introduced RFID tags to passports, personal data could be accessed from 30ft away, using a device that was easily available on sites such as EBay for as little as £180.

IoT security is now an issue of high importance and concern. Figures from a study undertaken by Strategy Analytics that looked into IoT system security, revealed that 70% of IT departments spend less than 20% of their time securing corporate network and data assets; while 56% agreed that their firms had or may have experienced a successful security breach.

Laura DiDio, SA director of IoT Systems Research and consulting and author of the report stated that “the survey results are a huge wake-up call.” DiDio furthered this, “IoT environments exponentially increase the size of the attack vector since companies have so many more devices, end points and applications to secure.”

What is being done?
Manufacturers and security firms are now trying to secure the world of IoT before it spirals out of control. Leading tech firms such Vodafone and BT have set up the Internet of Things Security Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, designed to vet internet connected devices to identify vulnerability and offer assistance in security. Ben Azvine, global head of security research and innovation of BT said that the foundation will help IoT tech go mainstream without compromising privacy. Other founding members of the organisation include Imagination Technologies, Royal Holloways University of London, Copper Horse Solutions, Secure Thingz, NMI and PenTest Partners.

John Moor, director of the IoTSF, said the foundation was set up to meet an urgent need. “With so many concerns and a new complexity of security in IoT, it is important that we now start the necessary work in earnest to address known, yet not always addressed, and emerging vulnerabilities,” he said. “The scale and scope of the issues are formidable and as such they require a formidable response. This can only be achieved effectively by working together”.

Additional efforts are being made in order to tackle the issues in IoT security. Platforms such as Google’s Brillo, the Qualcomm’s AllJoyn platform and Apple’s HomeKit have been designed to enable large networks of IoT devices to identify and authenticate each other in order to provide higher security and prevent data breaches.

What’s next for IoT Security?
More still needs to be done to ensure a safe user experience to all who integrate these internet-connected devices into their day-to-day lives.

Gateways that connect IoT devices to company and manufacturer networks need to be secured in addition to just the devices themselves. Repositories where IoT data is stored are also attractive targets to hackers who use big data to make money- the security of these data archives also needs to be considered. Security updates both manual and automatic are still risky, safeguards need to be implemented in order to prevent updating interfaces from becoming security holes themselves.

It is inevitable that IoT is soon to play a far more pivotal role in our day to day lives, and will revolutionise the world of technology. But this major issue needs to be addressed and efforts need to be made by all in technology to ensure a safe user experience by all.

Let us know your thoughts on the topic. Will IoT revolutionise the world in the way in which it is meant to, or will it leave users open to serious risk and compromise of privacy? Tweet us @ITRecruitment or join in the conversation on our Facebook.

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