The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a buzzing topic these days. The IoT: everyone is excited, except me! By Venkata Kiran Maram, BI Consultant at PBT Group
IoT is fundamentally a concept that describes a future where every day physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves with other devices. These smart devices, systems, and services that “communicate” with other devices via the Internet aim to make our lives easier, and offer us many benefits.
However many people are distracted from the implications that get ‘swept under the carpet’ – mainly the security and privacy issues.
Have you ever thought about what the consequences of living in a world where everything generates data about you, are?
If more and more information is becoming available to devices, and when those devices are connected, it also means that information is readily available to hackers. These connected devices also collect, transmit, store, and often share large amounts of consumer data, some of which is very confidential and personal – creating privacy risks.
In recent times, there has been a number of distressing events reported, which includes, attempts to hack web-connected CCTV footage, as well as numerous hacks on things like Smart TVs, Internet routers, connected fridges, baby monitors and washing machines, to name only a few.
While all these kinds of products are beneficial to us, it must be remembered that for many of these, security is not the manufacturers’ major concern/priority. Their main focus (and rightly so) is on the actual function of the product – like turning on the TV, or monitoring your baby’s sleep.
Our laptops and smartphones, which most of us utilise almost every day, listen to us when we’re making calls, both audio and video – and we shouldn’t forget this. There are several ways in which a hacker can turn on the microphones on these devices without you being aware and sometimes we even switch them on ourselves (not knowing the potential risk). For example, when we use the Voice processing systems on our devices, eg. “Siri” on our IPhone.
The reality is that our computers, laptops and mobile devices are tracking us even when we are idle. In fact, today one of the most commonly used free email accounts, pays attention to everything you type and conveniently displays advertisements based on your subject matter.
We are slowly moving towards an era where everything will be connected and while this may seem exciting and it will be beneficial to the consumer and many businesses, it also comes with substantial risks regarding security and privacy. And this needs to be considered.
Implementation of secure access control and device authentication may seem like the most suitable solution, however we are dealing with more than the average connecting device here. The successful implementation of the above is difficult to achieve, without affecting the user experience or having to include hardware that is not really necessary.
As a society, we need to explore the value of being able to be secure and maintain privacy in our personal lives without having the risks of IoT interfering.
We need to understand IoT effectively, to make sure that it actually benefits us and doesn’t leave us in a vulnerable position.
Privacy is a prerequisite for free expression, and losing that, in my opinion, would have a huge impact on our society. So yes, embrace the concept, but with your eyes wide open.