Internet of Things Grows Worldwide - but Security Remains an Issue
Once upon a time, the Internet of Things was something out of a science fiction movie; not anymore.
21:53 27 February 2018
As more and more major companies, like Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are investing in smart assistants and turn their focus on the interconnectivity of devices, it seems that IoT has already consolidated its presence in the tech industry and it is now only a matter of devising better products and fine-tuning elements. One of the aspects that are in dire need of a boost is certainly cybersecurity of IoT devices, as their increased capabilities also pose a marvellous new world for hackers to explore - as it's unfortunately already been proven.
IoT Market Expected to Grow Quicker by 2020
The IoT makes things easier for everyone, excites consumers and generates revenue for tech companies that are having a field day with designing and implementing novel solutions. In fact, IoT devices are expected to reach over 20 billion units by 2020 across both the business and consumer markets – with 12.86 billion of those units used by consumers. This sounds all the more impressive when you consider that the same figure is estimated to reach a little over 11 billion units in 2018 – so the growth rate of the market (and the subsequent revenue) seems quite spectacular.
In terms of profit, the B2B market is expected to invest roughly €250 billion (more than £220 billion) in IoT technology until 2020, while IoT applications and IoT analytics are each expected to generate €60 billion (over £53 billion) by that same year. Yet, in order for these figures to grow even more and for IoT to reach its full potential, more attention should be paid to the security of these networks of intelligent interconnected devices, as recent events demonstrate. Memories of the Mirai malware that infected smart devices to form an IoT army to mount further DDoS attacks and overwhelm servers with malicious traffic are still fresh.
Security Remains an Issue for IoT Devices
An army of "zombie" IoT devices that are centrally controlled by the malware constitutes a botnet and the ease with which Mirai was able to identify and enlist IoT devices made everyone think twice about the risks that the new technology might pose – some of which we haven’t even properly pinpointed yet. These botnets of vulnerable IoT appliances can be used as a platform to launch further attacks by cybercriminals; in the case of Mirai, to overwhelm US server Dyn that is considered one of the backbones of the internet, as well as Talk Talk consumers in the UK and Deutsche Telekom clients in Germany.
According to the 2017 OWASP Top 10 draft version, a consensus based report compiled by IT professionals which lists the most crucial web application vulnerability issues, using components with known vulnerabilities and security misconfigurations that allows hackers to access default accounts are among the most critical risks today. Mirai exploited the fact that several of these IoT devices still had their default passwords in place – like “12345”, “password” or “admin” – to gain unauthorised access and infect the devices. It has also been argued that specific devices had too manypvulnerabilities in place upon release, making it easier for cybercriminals to exploit them.
This only goes to show that increasing security when it comes to the Internet of Things is a job for everyone: manufacturers need to increase built-in protection, companies need to train their employees and consumers need to learn the basics of cybersecurity – like changing your default password to a strong one or getting redundant IoT devices that could pose unintended risks offline.
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