Nearly four decades ago, programmers at Carnegie Mellon University came to a decision. Dismayed by treks to an often dysfunctional Coke machine, they installed micro-switches and connected the machine to the internet and a departmental computer. A program allowed them to see if the machine was stocked and the bottles chilled.1
Amazingly, this event served as the first Internet of Things (IoT) device. Today, active IoT device connections are expected to reach 9.9 billion globally, and with a potential to double in size over the next five years.2 Gartner says enterprise and automotive IoT will grow to 5.8 billion in 2020, with the utilities industry leading the way for most IoT endpoints.3 Another source expects IoT technology spending will reach an astronomical $1 trillion by 2020.4 After experiencing explosions with cloud and mobile computing, IoT represents yet another technology challenge in our digitally transformed world.
And like every fledgling technology, IoT will be challenged– for both legitimate reasons and motives from the dark side. In this paper, we’ll discuss IoT security and discover how vulnerable you are to hacks. Is IoT a breeding ground for cyberattacks? We’ll also look at the implications for user and data security, and what you can do to secure your organization.
What Are IoT Devices and Where Do They Come From?
IoT devices are physical objects that automate home, business, and industry tasks. Internet-connected devices with embedded sensors detect and respond to input from the physical environment, giving information to another system or to guide a process.5 The infographic below shows the diverse range of sensor-enabled IoT devices that control many aspects of our personal and work lives.6
IoT’s massive network of devices collect large amounts of data. Some devices we encounter daily such as security systems, thermostats, electronic appliances, lighting systems, alarm clocks, digital assistants, and speaker systems.
Automobiles are filled with sensors. Tiny icons on dashboards reflect the sensors that monitor the status of your car’s functions. Proximity sensors help you park or avoid cars in blind spots. Sensors track the operations…
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1 “The ‘Only’ Coke Machine on the Internet,” Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Department
2 “State of the IoT 2018: Number of IoT devices now at 7B – Market accelerating,” by Knud Lasse Lueth, IOT Analytics, August 8, 2018
3 “Gartner Says 5.8 Billion Enterprises and Automotive IoT Endpoints Will Be in Use in 2020, Gartner press release, August 29, 2019
4 “Six IoT predictions for 2019,” by Fredric Paul, Network World, January 2, 2019