Research has predicted there will be 20.4 billion IOT devices online by 2020, and according to NPR, one in six Americans now has a smart speaker.
It seems nearly everything is becoming a smart device and we are only seeing the beginning of the impact connected systems will have on the world. But what may offer consumers convenience and companies useful insights, could actually be quickly becoming one of the greatest threats to global society.
Here are 3 reasons why:
1. Safety & Security
The greatest risk of IoT is the lack of proper security. As soon a device is connected to the internet, it can be easily found by hackers through internet directories. If the device is not built with high security and data protection, hackers can access any and all data, as well as all other devices on that network. Even if the device is designed with the highest security measures, there is still no guarantee that it will remain secure over time.
This of course poses a threat to consumer privacy, but can have an even larger impact on consumer safety. In the automobile industry, connectivity has enabled self-driving or driver-assist capabilities. However with that comes increasingly complex safety and navigation systems that are more vulnerable to hacking.
Medical devices in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical clinics are connected to a network and may be designed to for example, administer medication to a patient. If hacked, this capability could literally cost a patient’s life.
In fact recently, the FDA and Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to caregivers to stop using a computerized medication infusion pump because it could be accessed remotely through a hospital or nursing home’s network. The infused pump not only gave hackers a gateway to highly-sensitive information, they could have changed a patient’s medication dosage. Avritek was hired to properly dispose of all pumps.
2. Value of Data
Internet connected devices and particularly medical devices are particularly vulnerable because of the value of their data.
Where credit card information can be changed, these devices contain a wide range of identifying information, such as social security numbers, birthdates, home addresses, and private health information. This can be combined with financial data to create new black market “products”. Attackers may also use ransomware and demand payment from victims in exchange for not permanently destroying the files.
The WannaCry ransomware, which took over hundreds of thousands of computers at hospitals, universities, and telecommunications companies around the world is an example case.
3. A Global Threat
The sheer volume of interconnected IOT devices has widened access and puts society at large vulnerable to massive online attacks. An unpatched computer in Europe can infect another computer in America, propagating automatically.
The cyber attack in 2016 that shut down major companies such as Twitter, Spotify and Netflix was enough of a disaster, and the threat could have been worse.
The latest Global Risks Report of 2018 ranked Cybersecurity as the 3rd highest Global Risk in Terms of Likelihood, outranking Weapons of Mass Destruction and falling just behind Extreme Weather Events. In the Top 10 Risk in Terms of Impact, Cybersecurity ranked 6th.
The Internet of Things is quickly becoming the internet of everything, and with it comes an internet of threats. While companies may have updates and processes that aim to identify and prevent vulnerabilities before they occur, they are in a race against the hackers who continue to find weaknesses.
Since 2004 Avritek has been a leader in our industry because of our unwavering commitment to data security, IT management, responsible recycling and proper disposal. We service a wide variety of clients from industries such as Law, Finance, Biotech, Healthcare, Technology, Government, Manufacturers, as well as office environments of all sizes.
To learn more, call us at 858-715-0950.