IoT: Boon or Bane to Cybersecurity

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We are at a time where almost every object that we interact with will soon be connected to a network. It has taught us to tackle mundane activities, such as shopping, paying bills, making reservations, funds transfer, and more. Everything you need to know can be attained with one click, whether it is about the stock market or the weather in Atlantis. We no longer have to wait in long queues, traveling long distances, or plan our schedule for every small thing. In short, we are living in the most comfortable era, where everything is right at our fingertips.

Add to this luxury, imagine a smart home with smart doors and smart appliances, such as refrigerator, air conditioner, television, light, coffeemaker, and so on. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a new revolution to the Internet technology that has introduced the term “Smartness” to all IT infrastructure. IoT is not restricted to residential areas, but every industry is now deploying IoT solutions across its multiple business operations. IoT has leveraged the most in the health care industry for its effectiveness and the efficiency that it brings.

What Is the IoT?

The IoT comprises of two things—connect everything and monitor. IoT devices come with a sensor that is connected to the Internet and can transmit data with minimal human interaction. The smart activities are performed by connecting to the individual IP addresses. The IoT enables seamless connection and allows magical life that works on turning buttons remotely. But the benefits that IoT brings to every segment, combined with the amount of risk of being connected to the Internet brings as many cons as pros.

IoT has the potential to empower businesses in taking their service to the next level. However, when 20 million devices get connected over the next decade, the security risk of IoT becomes equally important as the rewards [1].

Pros of IoT

IoT provides remote access to every electronic device that is connected to it. It connects, stores, monitors, records, and re-uses the data to create a better future.

  1. Access to Information

Indeed, more information is always useful to make better decisions irrespective whether the decision is about buying your daily groceries or a lifetime investment. IoT provides a tool to share knowledge. With the IoT acting as “Superficial Intelligence,” it connects you to different parts of the world and gets you access to the information you are seeking.

  1. Improves Efficiency

IoT allows electronic appliances and devices to communicate among themselves to provide better solutions to us. The task of collecting information from one device and feeding it in another device can be automated now. By allowing the data to be shared among various electronic devices and then giving us the final output, IoT is improving the efficiency of our systems.

  1. Increase in Productivity

Productivity gives a positive impact on your business profit. With the help of IoT, in time, training can be provided to employees remotely, improving their efficiency and minimizing the scope of mismatch of skills. All these results have increased organizational productivity.

  1. Connection via Communication

IoT establishes a connection between physical devices and serves as a channel of communication between them. Machine-to-machine communication promotes transparency with improved quality and reduced inefficiencies.

  1. Automation and Control

When electronic devices are controlled and connected digitally via a wireless infrastructure, the machines can communicate with each other without human intervention. The digital automation and control of machines have led to prompt output with less effort.

Cons of IoT

IoT is growing at a massive speed, and with so many devices in every household, it will soon become difficult to control its popularity.

According to Helsinki, Finland-based F-Secure, a cybersecurity company citing research from Gartner, over the next 2 years, the number of IoT devices entering households will climb steeply from 9 devices per household (currently) to 500 by 2022, with IoT connectivity being bundled into products whether people want it or not [2].

  1. Dependency on Technology

The advancement in technology and IoT is making life simpler; many of us are depending on digital devices for every little thing. IoT is increasing this dependency even higher due to its sophisticated solutions. No device is free from hitches, and any fault would result in massive data loss. IBM, along with Threatcare, identified 17 vulnerabilities (of which 8 were critical) on smart city systems that were deployed across the world. The vulnerabilities were mostly found in elementary flaws in security design, such as leaving systems unattended and accessible to amateurs or those with malicious intentions. With the number of IoT devices growing in the personalized segment, users and manufacturers of IoT devices shall challenge their standards of security [3].

  1. Compromising Security in Privacy

As an IoT device connects to various other machines, there will be involvement of vendors of all those devices who monitor their products regularly. Everyone’s access to their devices will question the security and privacy of the data. Retrieving and storing data also gets difficult with so many companies involved at the same time. The critical part of IoT is that consumers are slowly compromising their privacy without realizing how the data are collected and how they are used. It is when an Electronic Frontier Foundation activist tweeted about the unsettling similarity of the Samsung Smart TV privacy policy that read that consumers shall not discuss sensitive information near the device [4].

  1. Reduced Employment Prospects

As IoT automate processes and reduces human intervention, the requirement of manpower reduces, pulling down the employment prospects. According to Softonic, IoT will majorly reduce the employment prospects of mundane or repetitive jobs and would increase the employment potential in technologies, such as artificial intelligence [5].

  1. Fear of Failure

No doubt IoT solutions simplify many processes, but the entire process is complex creating a possibility of failure. In February 2017, a major security concern was identified in CloudPets, a popular Internet connected toy for kids. Security experts, after assessing the flaw, declared that the voice messages exchanged between kids and parents could be recorded by the toy and easily accessed by cybercriminals. Further investigations revealed that the stuffed animals can be turned into potential remote surveillance devices [6].

IoT has influenced our lives to a large extent, without many of us realizing it. Now, that it has integrated as part of the technology, the growth in digital- or electronic-related services or devices will simultaneously boost the usage of IoT too. On one side, IoT has many advantages that can simplify human life to a large extent; on another, it has worse shortcomings. We consider this as a boon to our life when we decide and control the usage of IoT in our daily lives. Otherwise, if it is left unattended or not controlled, it will be a bane as it stakes the ultimate privacy and crucial information.

Business Insider Intelligence estimated that 24 billion IoT devices will be installed by 2020 [7]. The rising number of IoT devices also demand an increase in security from unexpected threats. If you are a cybersecurity expert, you can play a crucial role in minimizing the risks and keep data secured. Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) is a program from EC-Council that provides knowledge and skills on identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities in an IoT device. The latest version of C|EH covers the potential threats to IoT platform and demonstrate how to deal with them. C|EH has a separate module dedicated to IoT, in which, IoT concepts, IoT attack, IoT hacking methodologies, IoT tools, countermeasures, and IoT pen testing are detailed with respective labs. More details can be obtained from our website.

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