We have all seen the films… Skynet has taken over our world and is controlling the very machines we created to fight against the remnant resistance of humanity… What is our world going to look like in 5-10 years’ time when the explosion of devices connected to the internet and generating data hits reality? 20-50 billion devices by 2020 with toasters, fridges, IV drips, cars, pacemakers, golf balls and clothing all connected to the internet. The very fabric of our homes and towns will be linked through traffic lights, road signs, heating and lighting systems, door controls, baby monitors, cookers and even food packaging. We ourselves will be wired up though health sensors and biometric controls allowing our homes and environments to respond to our needs, before even we know what they are. Health monitoring on our phones means they already know more about us that we do ourselves!
So what is the concern?
Fear, uncertainly and doubt speaks not just of artificial intelligence type terrors but terrifying scenarios of cars being driven off bridges by hackers and hospital patients being murdered remotely – but what is the reality? The same cynics decry the cloud as insecure – but although there are of course genuine concerns to be addressed, the majority of cloud services maintain a far higher level of security that our own environments. Nettitude’s penetration testing teams invariably find critical issues with internally managed networks, however, cloud providers generally do manage their identity and passwords reasonably well, patch regularly, deploy two-factor authentication for administrators and have good levels of physical security. The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ probably was first used back in 1999 by Kevin Ashton (http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?4986). Our world has come a long way since then but we need to adapt to this rapid change that is now taking place.
How will we approach this?
Our increasingly connected world is going to be an exciting and interesting one for sure. Security will have to have a say in the deployment of so many embedded devices. Where the risks are high, vendors will need to ensure their products and services deliver on this. Our technologies will need to develop to take away the need for security controls from end users. End users just want to use their web browsers, wear their technology or manage their homes. If we continue to rely on end users to secure these systems we will need to create security experts out of them all! But the convenience of collecting ‘Big Data’ from such a vast number of devices will send our innovators and developers into a spin – the potential to apply that data to new products and services is immense. Industry forums and security researches are focusing on these areas – but there is much more to be done at this stage. But we must not sacrifice our security and privacy in favour of creating and sharing data more easily.
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