IoT Devices: The Pros and Cons
Have you noticed “IoT” being mentioned more and more in the news? It’s because this ubiquitous new technology has greatly evolved in the past few years.
It is estimated that there will be more than 75 billion IoT connected devices in use by 2025, a nearly threefold increase from 2019 figures.
While the increase in IoT devices promises to make our infrastructure more efficient, our lives more convenient, and our businesses far easier to monitor, it also creates new security risks. All smart devices are connected to each other through the internet, and that means that the data they use and create can be hacked.
To gain a better understanding of the world of IoT and its cybersecurity implications, read on.
What Exactly Constitutes IoT?
IoT consists of any hardware or physical device connected to the internet; these devices usually take on the word “smart” in their name. Smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit, and smart homes with internet-connected light bulbs, cooling systems, and alarm systems are part of the IoT ecosystem.
IoT is growing at a rapid rate with a huge range of apps and devices that are increasing our conveniences and giving us more control as our lives get busier and busier.
On the other hand, being constantly connected also brings with it several risks and challenges.
Anything Digital is Hackable
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were over 4,000 cyberattacks every day, with experts estimating the average household is hit with 104 threats each month.
All things that come in digital form—emails, bank accounts, medical records, and so on—run the risk of electronic theft.
Systems with weak cybersecurity measures in place are especially vulnerable. Think about the growing news reports of cyberattacks hitting tech companies such as T-Mobile and the Colonial Pipeline. These organizations had heavy security protocols in place but got hacked anyway.
An IoT device can constitute a more direct target than even websites and email accounts. These devices are physical objects that people take with them or even wear. Now, if there is a malicious hacker out there that wants to harm a specific individual on purpose, that person’s device could serve as a gateway to a lot of trouble and pain.
Protect Our Digital World, Learn Cybersecurity
The entire cybersecurity sector has been growing steadily, outpacing many others in terms of job demand, and the rapidly-growing adoption of IoT devices continues to increase the demand for skilled professionals in IT security.
People working in cybersecurity help protect our networks, secure personal devices, and are the first line of defense against hackers. Whether you come from a tech background or not, the University of Miami Cybersecurity Professional Bootcamp will help you build the foundational skills you need to succeed in the skyrocketing field of cybersecurity.
Here is how the bootcamp works: all classes are live, online, and led by cybersecurity experts, two sessions on weeknights and one on Saturdays. The whole program is a total of 400 hours of in-depth cybersecurity instruction and takes about 10 months to finish.
You will practice new skills through hands-on simulations and cyber labs that mimic real-world cybersecurity scenarios. Plus, the Cybersecurity Bootcamp includes a dedicated career services department that can guide you along your cybersecurity journey.
IoT devices are completely dependent on the internet connection they run on.
In case of server issues, power outages, or any other connectivity problems, smart devices will not be able to work normally until the connection resumes.
If that means your vacuum skips a scheduled cleaning, the consequences might not be so dire. However, loss of connectivity could also cause life-saving health-tracking monitors to fail or not report crucial information on time. It could also mean that your safety cameras and home security system might be turned off until the internet connection is restored.
IoT Devices & Cybersecurity
Most IoT and smart devices have less storage and processing power than laptops and smartphones. Because of this, cybersecurity professionals are often not able to install anti-virus, firewalls, and other widespread security applications that could help protect them.
What’s more, even in those cases where basic cybersecurity measures could be enforced, businesses and organizations often fail to do so for IoT devices on their networks. While roughly 84% of organizations have IoT devices on their corporate networks, more than 50% of them don’t maintain necessary security measures beyond default passwords.
The rapid pace of tech innovation also plays a role in the general lack of cybersecurity standards for IoT devices. Sometimes they are developed so quickly that their software fails to meet the most basic safety protocols.
No reason to despair, though, because there are many things you can do, on a personal level, to protect your privacy and your personal data. Here is CISA’s best advice on how to protect your personal smart devices:
- Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media. These seemingly random details are all that criminals need to know to target individuals and their physical belongings. Disable location services to keep your whereabouts private.
- If you connect, you must protect. The best defense against cyber attacks is updating to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems (automatic updates are best!). Scan for viruses and malware when using USBs, and use antivirus software and periodic backups to protect precious data.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network and your digital devices by changing the factory-set default password and username.
- Keep tabs on your apps. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps or using default permissions you never realized you approved—putting your identity and privacy at risk. Regularly review app permissions and only download apps from trusted vendors.
- Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) with a trusted device, such as your smartphone, to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in.