Serious Security Concerns Lurk Beneath IoT Hype

by Matt Klassen on January 15, 2016

IoTThere is an endless horizon of possibilities for the growing Internet of Things, a world where everything is connected and talks to each other, and all is done for the betterment of humankind. At least such was the over-hyped and overly optimistic message for this year’s CES in Las Vegas, where everything from connected sneakers to connected cities was on display.

But underneath the IoT hype, a world filled with fridges that do everything and diapers that measure the amount of baby poop contained therein, lurks considerably more serious issues of data collection, privacy, and, of course, personal security, and much like the dark and dastardly nature of such potential attacks, it seems gadget makers and IoT pioneers would prefer that discussions about such things stick to the shadows as well, that is until a breach so great occurs that it can’t help but burst into the light.

In fact, in a world where we’ve already seen the potentially devastating consequences of breaches in this comprehensive connectivity, it doesn’t take much to imagine planes crashing from the sky, cars inexplicably smashing into each other, and the front doors of your homes simply opening when thieves come calling, all because they have been hacked.

Now granted there are few in the general public today who are concerned about the security risks associated with the Internet of Things, probably because they’re still waiting to be convinced that IoT is something they want, or more importantly, something they need. Such a landscape of ignorance and apathy means that gadget makers are doing everything they can to impress potential customers—hence the veritable tsunami of IoT gadgets unveiled at CES this year—with little thought or consideration given to security or personal protection.

But that said, given that security, particularly in relation to personal data, is at the forefront of everyone’s mind these days, it won’t be long until that bleeds into the realm of IoT, and if customers can’t trust their connected home, or connected fridge or connected shoes to keep them secure, that’s definitely bad news for this growing industry.

“It’s a potential barrier to customers adopting the new technology,” said John Curran, managing director of the communications, media and tech practice for consulting firm Accenture. In fact, a study conducted by Accenture in 2015 found that security concerns and privacy risks were already among the top reasons people cited for staying away from the Internet of Things.

But wary as some might be, the fact of the matter remains that all it takes to lure in the masses to IoT is to demonstrate its functionality, not its security. “As soon as they see a purpose, they understand,” Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg said last week in an interview. Convince them that they need it, and they’ll most definitely buy it, a point that is driving the IoT industry forward at an alarming rate.

In fact, the IoT industry seems far more interested in the possibilities of connectivity, rather than establishing effective security protocols for keeping that massive amount of new data safe and secure, and given what we saw with the introduction of the connected PC and again with the connected phone, neither the industry nor users will adequately consider the security risks until it’s too late, resulting in a game of catch-up that will leave the data of millions of people exposed.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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