As the internet morphs and changes with great innovation, it is now estimated that the number of internet connected devices in the year 2020 will reach 50 billion. It is also estimated that in 2020 the global population will be around 7.5 billon, which means there will be six connected devices for every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. Most people could name a handful of those devices without even thinking very hard: laptop, tablet, mobile phone and smartwatch. But what are the rest?

The remainder of those connected devices (along with those named above) are commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT devices range from home automation devices, TVs and toasters to medical devices and vehicles. Internet connected systems are a boon to convenience and efficiency – they undoubtedly make our lives easier by allowing us to automate some of the more mundane or habitual aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, few of these systems are built with security in mind.

What could go wrong with IoT?

There are many stories of attackers taking control of baby cameras or security cameras to look into homes and businesses. However, these intrusions into privacy pale in comparison to the very real implications of security vulnerabilities discovered in vehicle and medical systems. In 2015, researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek were able to remotely control a vehicle being driven on a pubic highway, bringing the vehicle to a stop on the roadway. The researchers used the cellular service built into the vehicle, which connected the device to the internet. In 2016, Johnson & Johnson warned patients of a security vulnerability in one of its insulin pumps that an attacker could exploit to overdose diabetic patients with insulin. Most recently, security researchers at WhiteScope found over 8600 vulnerabilities in four types of pacemakers and their control devices.

Jul-Sep 2017 Issue