THE INTERNET OF THINGS – A GAME CHANGER
Why the Internet of Things is so Great and so Terrible
The Internet of Things (IoT) is another one of those buzz terms that folks like to use. However, it is a tad more specific than the term “cloud” yet is just about as encompassing. IoT takes into account all things that are not outright computers. Things like refrigerators that are internet connected, or security cameras, thermostats, production lines, and even cars. IoT are all the things you would not normally think of as being connected to the Internet. IoT brings us data that can make your life even easier or jobs more productive. Think of being able to look into your fridge from the store to see if you have milk, or look at your security camera from your smartphone or maybe even being able to see or control a production line remotely. However, this ease and increase in productivity also brings with it plenty of concerns and real world problems. A game changer? Definitely.
Many billions of devices
Gartner says that IoT devices will be in the billions this year, perhaps over 6 billion. By 2020 that number should be over 21 billion. That is amazing growth! Think of all the data available and traversing the Internet just from IoT devices.
None developed with security in mind
Not one of these devices is developed with security in mind from the beginning. Back in the day, IT folks railed against software programs that didn’t take security into account and hardware that was easily compromised. Slowly that got much better. Now quite a bit of software has security in mind from the get go. IoT is beginning this process all over again. All sorts of really cool things are being developed with giant, gaping security holes, backdoors, and very lax security. It really is amazing that folks are creating these things that connect to the wild and wooly Internet and don’t take security seriously. However, that is exactly what is happening.
Next big thing??? It IS THE BIG THING right now
You may read articles that talk about IoT being the next big thing. I’m here to tell that it is NOT the next big thing. It IS the big thing right now. The numbers I stated at the beginning of this article are indicative of this. The phrase IoT may be new. Well, really it’s not new, it’s been around for quite a few years. However, it’s just now being used by lots of folks and there are plenty of things that are connected to the Internet already. It is happening in a big way right now.
What does all this mean?
IoT can mean lots of really cool things that can make our lives easier and give us more information to make better decisions. That is what is so appealing about each of these devices. I don’t have to wait to take my car into the mechanic when something goes wrong, or the check engine light comes on. The car will upload diagnostics to the cloud and I can see what’s wrong with it by logging on to my account. When I have a hankering, I can look at my security cameras from my smartphone, or check the milk in the fridge. If I’m running a mining operation I can check on the crushers and conveyers from my computer across the world and even from my smartphone. All these things have the capability to make life at least a little easier or better or more productive. But with the recent hacks that have happened that have targeted IoT devices, it is clear that it is such easy pickings that hackers and script kiddies alike will be taking advantage more and more. One example is one of my favorite bloggers to read. Brian Krebs was hit with the largest DDoS attackseen on Akamai’s network, and he’s “just” a blogger and not even an important connected infrastructure system or government agency. He was hit simply because he outed some hackers. Think of what can be done when an organized group of hackers or a state actor (think China, Russia, North Korea) wants to really do some damage. It is definitely a game changer and a scary thing. One that needs to be mitigated at its source, or at least by third party security devices like UTM firewalls that can help to avoid those sorts of problems. Be aware of the risks and find out what you can do to mitigate it.