The Threats of the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is considered to be “the next big thing”. For the ones who have never heard of it before; the Internet of Things is the network that increases machine-to-machine communication. It is built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors. The Internet of Things makes it possible for electronic objects to be controlled remotely. In simple language: every electronic device that is connected through the internet is part of the Internet of Things. Experts estimate that the Internet of Things will consist of almost 50 billion objects in 2020 (Burrus, 2014).
The Internet of Things makes life easier. For example: the navigation system in your car, controlling the temperature in your home with a smartphone-application or tracking your lost keys with a tag. However, many people do not consider the risks that come with the Internet of Things. Many manufacturers of these machines are not taking the necessary security steps that are needed to keep the devices safe. I will illustrate these risks with three examples (Brewster, 2014).
One of the most dangerous risks of the Internet of Things is the possibility to hack vehicles. Some trucking companies use GPS tracking or ‘check-out’ systems to control access to the vehicles when they are in depots. The advantage of this is that the trucks can be retrieved when stolen. However, any wireless technology that is able to receive wireless commands, is a target for hackers. Hackers could, for example, stop the engine of a truck, which is a real threat is this truck is driving on the highway. And this threat is not just for trucks. More and more normal cars also use these technologies, while many car manufacturers do not add enough security measures.
Hacking a home
Similar threats can be found in your home. Many people use smartphone applications to turn electrical devices on and off or to control the temperature. The internet gives hackers access to these devices, which means that they can control all of them, which could cause real-world damage, possibly a fire. Also, TV’s that run the Android operating system are vulnerable to hackers. If a hacker would hack into a smart-TV, he could control the device, but also take photos if the TV has a built-in camera.
A device that more and more people use is a tag on your key ring, to recover your lost keys. This simple devices is connected with the internet since you can locate the keys with your smartphone. Hackers could track people with this device and, since it will send a signal 24/7, know where you are every minute of every day.
Even though the benefits of the Internet of Things are numerous, the threats of the Internet of Things are real as well. As connected devices proliferate, my hope is that they do so more safely. Manufacturers have to take the necessary security steps that are needed to keep the devices safe.
Author: Niels van der Wolf
Brewster, T. (2014) There are real and present dangers around the Internet of Things, The Guardian, 20/03/2014, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/20/internet-of-things-security-dangers, last visited 17/09/2015.
Burrus, D. (2014) The Internet of Things is far bigger than anyone realizes, Wired Online Magazine, 17/11/2014, http://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/the-internet-of-things-bigger/, last visited 17/09/2015.
http://postscapes.com/internet-of-things-examples/, last visited 17/09/2015.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK0SrxBC1xs, last visited 17/09/2015.