The Internet of Things (IoT) has experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years and is not expected to slow down soon. With its current progressive trend in mind, IoT is predicted to soon occupy the top spot in the device market worldwide. While its advantages have been plentiful, the primary benefits occur in the realms of increased efficiency in the home, city, and workplace. However, a major disadvantage is the very real threat of security breaches.

Threats to Personal Data

IoT devices, especially in the smart home, collect an enormous amount of personal data, and as a result, cybersecurity is a major concern. A thorough security pattern still has not been properly discussed even though some procedures have been implemented with some success. One criticism is that the rush by tech companies to get the latest and greatest gadgets into consumer hands has equaled a disregard for end-to-end encryption and other key security measures. So, while the rise of machine to machine communication has made our lives easier, it has also invited serious threats into our homes and workplaces.

Causes

There are several potential causes for breaches of security in connected devices. A primary concern is the web interface built into each device. While this interface allows users to interact with the device, it also provides hackers a doorway for unwanted entry. Additional security vulnerabilities are related to having ineffective authentication mechanisms in place due to a variety of causes from oversimplified passwords to poorly protected credentials. Other concerns are insecure network services and the aforementioned lack of encryption.

Consequences

The results of these vulnerabilities range from inconvenience to fright, with hackers able to breach webcams or even track who is in a given location. Cyber criminals can also disrupt business activities and extricate sensitive materials, including corporate information and intellectual property. Clearly, personal safety and financial security can be in dangerous hands quickly.

Solutions

The technology/security relationship has always been a bit of a dance, with tech taking a step forward, hackers stepping ahead, and the industry circling around and looking for solutions. IoT evolution has been no different. Tech companies are working to develop countermeasures to those breaches every day. It is important for device users to create complex and unique passwords, use different passwords for each device and incorporate a 3 failed attempt lockout system. The use of two-factor authentication is a good practice as well. In order to secure network services, only necessary ports should be exposed and available, and should not be vulnerable to buffer overflow and fuzzing attacks. Encrypted formats should always be employed.

With the endless creative potential of modern innovators, and the unfortunate equally creative hackers always lurking, technological advancement always has a cost. The best defense is usually a proactive offense, and the urgency to get gadgets into the market must be equally balanced with the drive for security to ensure safety in our most private spaces and the protection of our loved ones.