Security and the Internet of Things

August 17, 2015

We’ve discussed in previous blogs how the Internet of Things (IoT) is being incorporated in industrial settings and how manufacturers are taking advantage of the technology. The Internet of Things has quickly moved from business to consumer devices, and is becoming more common in everyday life.

According to a recent study, Pew Research Center predicts the Internet of Things will be everywhere by 2025, including mobile, wearable and embedded computing technologies. Consumers are using devices such as health trackers, car audio and navigation systems, home security systems and more daily. Connected to the Internet, these devices provide a level of control and accessibility we didn’t have before. Right now, you can turn your Apple Watch into a wireless door key for your home, and refrigerators can monitor food freshness and offer recipes.

However, as more and more of our lives become connected to the Internet, the question of security becomes a greater concern. Recently, two hackers proved how easy it was to gain control of a Jeep Cherokee as the driver rode down the highway, turning on the radio, windshield wipers, adjusting the climate control and more. At one point, the hackers even cut the transmission, causing the driver to come to a near stop on a busy highway.

So how do we ensure our personal or business lives are safe from hackers in the world of connected homes, cars, offices and more? Setting security standards would be a start. Many large corporations, such as Google, Cisco and Samsung, are creating network protocols with the goal of having a standard for communication between connected devices. Manufacturers for devices will need to rethink product designs with security in mind, and ensure products have software and embedded operating systems that are up-to-date.

A Beecham Research report urged companies and manufacturers to act now on securing IoT devices, stating that the industry must “unite to ensure security is built in from start to finish.” Being aware of the risks and security issues and moving forward with creating standards is important for the future of IoT devices. However, as we’ve already seen in the past few years, the benefits — from increased production in factories to real-time monitoring of medical conditions — far outweigh the risks.

Have you used IoT devices in your home or workplace? How have you dealt with security concerns?