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Alexa, Tell Me More About the Internet of Things

Have you ever asked Alexa to turn on your stereo, or turn down the heat? Have you ever used your Fitbit to monitor your run?

These are examples of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which have a direct connection to the internet. IoT devices are therefore networked to communicate the data they collect. The term “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999, long before the advent of sensor-equipped and internet-connected household devices. Today, toasters, thermostats, light bulbs, microwaves, cars, fitness monitors, and pacemakers can all automatically communicate data, in real time.

20 billion IoT devices are projected to be in use worldwide in 2021. Fields such as Industrial Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Medical Devices, and Consumer Electronics have been transformed with this new technological advance. The decreasing cost of internet connections, the increasing number of sensor-equipped and WiFi-enabled devices, and the ubiquitous nature of smartphones all contribute to the growing presence of IoT devices.

The beauty of IoT devices lies in their ability to connect and communicate contextualized information on product performance, making greater efficiency and innovation possible. But, as with any data collection tool, security is always an issue.

Here are some common security concerns IoT devices raise:

  • IoT devices often come with weak passwords, or no passwords at all. This vulnerability makes IoT devices particularly susceptible to botnet attacks, when a number of internet-connected devices maliciously target one network or device.
  • In the pursuit of new and improved products, manufacturers often abandon legacy products, leaving them with outdated hardware and software. Existing devices can be left vulnerable through a lack of patches and updates. 
  • Many IoT devices also use insecure data transfer and storage methods. This can jeopardize personal privacy and even pave the way for industrial espionage or malicious interference with infrastructure - such as a power grid, for example. Additionally, if a hacker accesses an IoT device, they may be able to use it as a doorway to access the entire network, leading to a breach of other devices and data repositories.

All of these issues can be addressed by using systems that prioritize data security as a core tenant of design and not an after-thought. If you are interested in learning more about how to securely implement IoT devices, contact the computer scientists at XorFox for a free consultation.

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