Today, it is very easy to get bogged down in the jargon that people use when talking about innovations in tech without explaining what they mean. Tech experts have been talking about the Internet of Things for a while now, and most recently focussing on the security concerns.
What is Internet of Things(IoT)?
In short, IoT is products around your home, for example, all talking to each other without the need for input from humans. Your heating links to your smartwatch, which will know when you wake up and tell your lighting to turn on, as well as turning on your coffee machine, all ready for when you get out of bed. It is an integral part, if not a central part of Industry 4.0 and the way it proceeds will have a ripple effect across the tech industry.
This sort of connectivity in your life sounds like a futuristic dream, and, if done well, it is. But the problem that people in the industry are talking about at the moment is how to keep it all secure.
The market is awash with IoT products, ranging from security cameras to kettles, from cars to smartwatches. The majority of products have security protocols and passwords that are a default, which poses a threat to the system in your home as a whole. At the moment, designers are more focussed on getting products to market than installing security features.
What is the need for IoT Security?
There have been a few notable attacks on IoT devices, some of which the world will have noticed, but not known where the attack happened. For example, there was an attack on a company called Dyn which crashed sites like Twitter for almost two hours. This attack originated from IP cameras and routers, and other IoT devices.
In recent years, progress has been made in governments around the world to combat the threat of hacking the Internet of Things. In August 2017, the US Senate passed the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act, but is still waiting for House approval. And in the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that passed in May 2018, has the capacity to cover IoT devices. The manufacturers of IoT products should be taking notice.
What as consumers, can we do?
There are some simple things one can do to reduce risk. The easiest thing is to not have any IoT devices in your home at all. But if that doesn’t seem like an option, then update the passwords on all your internet-enabled devices. Have them unique and change them every few months. Another thing consumers can do is to have their IoT on a different internet network to their more sensitive devices. Then, if someone does gain access to the network via a device such as a kettle, or security camera, they cannot waltz into your personal devices and data. True, it can be annoying to have to keep track and change passwords every few months, but the price that we will have to pay for not taking these steps is too high.