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The IOT Threat

The Internet of Things brings several benefits, but does it have negatives?

14Aug

The Internet of Things (IOT) has become a widely used term which very few people actually have any idea about.

Often viewed as an extension of the Machine to Machine (M2M) market - seen recently with RFID tags and WiFi communications - the basic principles of the IOT aren’t new. The concept is basically about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, not the other way round.

More often than not, the IOT is discussed in a positive light. The Guardian described a world in which your fridge would be able to text you when you’d run out of milk. Its uses, however, go far and beyond that. Philips, for example, launched its ‘Lifeline GoSafe’ - a mobile response system for seniors - which demonstrated the impact the the IOT can have on healthcare. This has been reflected in the valuation of the IOT healthcare market, which is expected to reach $117 billion by 2020.

Despite its advantages, the IOT isn’t without its risks. Corporate networks can be at threat from the IOT, especially if they don’t actively prevent people from joining their networks. In an article on TechRadar, it was reported that 23% of IT security professionals do not make an effort to stop people from connecting external devices - like wearables, medical devices and smart TVs - to their company’s network. Jamie Carter, the author of the article on TechRadar, goes as far as to call this situation a ‘free-for-all’.

While having a FitBit connected to your corporate network doesn’t seem like much to worry about, too many devices connected to a corporate network can lead to problems. In line with this, Amol Sarwate - Director of Engineering at Qualys - discussed how potential threats can be cancelled out;

‘This can be simple things like not applying patches that are available to fix known problems, or not putting authentication steps in place to verify who has access’

Other issues - which lie outside the corporate world - have been earmarked as well. In-car WiFi, for example, comes with a number of security vulnerabilities. If a hacker chooses to, they can hack the car, pose as it, and then connect to external servers - such as OnStar - and steal credit card details. Even with the healthcare industry, the chances of sensitive healthcare information being leaked increases, as the more devices connected to a network, the more viruses that are likely to hit impeach it.

As with any data-related trend, security remains an issue. If there’s information to be hacked, the chances are someone will be out there who are capable of stealing it. Yet approaching the IOT with such a sense of pessimism will likely negate the many advantages that it brings. It’s become more than a buzzword, something which will have an impact far outside the business environment, whether that’s in urban management or healthcare.

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