The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a vast array of technologies that are slowly finding their way into the lives of consumers. By 2020, there will be 50 billion “things” connected to the Internet, representing profits and cost savings of $19 trillion. However, IoT technology also presents new security vulnerabilities for computer hackers to exploit. How can IoT be made more secure?
The Reality of IoT Security Dangers
One possible scenario in which a hacker could do serious damage is by manipulating data collected through Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) IoT applications, which are intended to help doctors treat their patients remotely. If a hacker caused an RPM to report that a diabetes patient required a fresh injection of insulin when they did not need it, the outcome could be fatal for the patient.
By 2020, 90 percent of vehicles will have some kind of IoT enablement. Machina Research estimates that by 2024 there will be approximately 1.2 billion M2M connections in the automotive sector globally. What if a hacker disables the brakes of a “connected car” or takes over its automated driver functions? As frightening as these scenarios sound, they are very real dangers. The following are three of the ways that an IoT device hack could happen.
Hijacking of User Accounts
Whether a consumer is using an IoT medical device or an IoT equipped automobile, the individual will probably need to have a registered account in order to get technical service and device updates and pay for a subscription. By 2017, 82 percent of businesses will be using IoT applications; thus, hackers will have more opportunities to commit identity theft and credit card fraud.
A greater number of user accounts relating to IoT tech will also open up users to more phishing attacks from hackers. According to a study by The Kaspersky Lab, 28.8 percent of 2014 phishing attacks were carried out to steal financial data.
Malware Issues and Cyber Ransom
A common ploy by hackers involves tricking computer users into installing malware that holds their computers for ransom. This could happen to an automobile, rendering a car inoperable until the owner pays a specific dollar amount to the hacker. Even worse, it could happen to an RPM or some other piece of life-saving healthcare IoT tech.
Keeping the Internet of Things Safe
Security applications are a major segment of the M2M market, accounting for 18.5 percent of connected devices in 2024. IoT device security is not just a problem; it is also an opportunity — particularly for Internet technology security firms. New virus protection software, password technology and encryption services will only become more relevant to everyday life as IoT becomes more prevalent.
Regardless of the type of IoT tech being used, and regardless the application, regular firmware and software updates will become essential to maintaining security in the IoT era. As hackers reveal and/or open new vulnerabilities, IoT firms can react swiftly to resolve security breaches through the implementation of real-time software updates.
Furthermore, security is about much more than just the technology. We need to consider other issues, such as data privacy and protection, human operations and the business model behind the M2M and IoT solution.
At the end of the day, security is a constantly moving target. Malicious activity and the search for system vulnerabilities are constant, especially in fast-scaling systems. Companies should always have a contingency plan and remain flexible to take into account evolving circumstances.
To learn more about how to properly address security challenges, download our datasheet: M2M Security: Ensuring Device Security for the Internet of Things