The Internet of Things (IoT) has permeated our everyday lives. From making our homes more efficient, to creating safer roads, it has even allowed us to live out healthier and more active lives. From what it seems the IoT has provided us with a barrage of positive and beneficial ways to make our lives more productive in almost every aspect.
It's not just everyday consumers that see the value in the IoT. Manufacturers and businesses too, can leverage on IoT to reduce costs, understand their customers and find new opportunities for revenue. From consumers to businesses, IoT is becoming, if not already, more pervasive.
However, as IoT starts to make its way into our lives, the issue of security and privacy come into focus. Even the smallest of things such as fitness bands are connected to a network. When security of these bands is compromised, our every movement and location can be easily tracked. Take the example of baby monitors; they are meant to provide the parent with assurance that the baby is safe. However, if hacked into, an attacker can take the opportunity to watch and spy on the family. Even smart cars which are meant to enhance the safety of its driver, can result in undesirable consequences should an attacker take control of the car.
Almost every device imaginable is capable of being hacked into – as long as it is a connected device, it can be hacked. As more devices start to join a network, it gives the attacker more entry points to disrupt the system. The types of attack extend from phishing to physical intrusion and the number of breaches continue to increase exponentially each year.
There's no single foolproof method to counter the threats. One method alone is insufficient and instead a multi-directional approach is needed. It's not just the device itself that requires security, its network and cloud connection demands it too.
Starting with the device, manufacturers need to ensure security by design. Currently, many objects are designed for functionality, such as smart cars; however it's important to keep in mind that as long as it's connected to a network, security for both hard and software needs to be topnotch. And security should be planned and integrated ex ante. It's not just manufacturers who need to ensure this. Consumers too can play a part by making sure the devices they purchase are as secure as they are functional.
On top of security by design, the principles of Privacy by Design should be adopted as well. Methods such as strong encryptions, 2 Factor Authorisation (2FA) or a One Time Password (OTP) should be embedded into the design of the device. This will help to secure data and information even when it's being moved or stored over a network or the cloud.
As technology is constantly evolving, a 'one-size fits all' security solution will technically be unrealistic. Security solutions will need to adapt to the changes a device or its network will face. In turn, security providers will need to be able to continuously understand, evaluate and execute appropriate risk management strategies. Consumers too should stay on top of the latest trends in cyber-physical security so that they themselves can ensure their own security.
Apart from the fast evolving technology, the IoT is highly diverse in its types of devices and networks. Thus each system needs to ensure that the security put in place is tailored specifically.
Taking the cue from the incident where a hacker managed to control an airplane via the inflight entertainment system; security of systems should be 'zoned' and not entirely connected. Security providers should ensure that while each system needs to be well integrated into the overall security structure, it should also be customized so that when one part is attacked, the entire system is not compromised.
The IoT has a lot of potential to succeed and be positively integrated into our lives but this is only through the provision of a bespoke and tailored approach when it comes to security matters. However, the full potential of the IoT can only be reached if it is no longer the double-edged sword that it is now. From manufacturers to security providers and even consumers, all parties have a role to play in ensuring that high quality and standards of security measures are in place for the IoT to succeed.