I am sure, by now, you have come across the “IoT” or “Internet of Things” phrase many times. If you ever wondered what it is – I’ll try to make it clearer in this blog post. In fact, with this blog entry, we are starting a series of posts about the cybersecurity challenges of IoT.
Firstly – before we get into cybersecurity, hackers, threats and dangers of IoT – let’s make sure we are all on the same page and understand what it is exactly. In the broadest of sense, IoT means any so-called ‘smart’ device capable of communicating with other ‘smart’ devices. I don’t mean here your fridge discussing the latest news with your next-door neighbor microwave oven. I mean devices that can, using various ways to communicate with you or each other on a simple level – think more controlling your heating from your phone on the way from the airport.
Is Smart Home the same as IoT?
So is Smart Home the same as IoT? The short answer is yes…and no. Yes, because essentially Smart Home is a bunch of IoT devices at your home working together. No, because Smart Home is just a subset of IoT. IoT covers a lot more – from smart homes, thru wearables, connected toys, things for pets and the list goes on and on.
Imagine the possibilities – for now, we will just look at the bright side. Let’s start with, not so uncommon anymore, smart thermostats – your house can save you money and your heating bills. With smart locks – misplaced keys are a thing of the past. Smart lights bring control with voice. Any Trekkies there? Amazon Alexa can respond to ‘Computer’ – anyone dreamed about ‘Computer turn on the lights in Living Room?’ – well it is possible now! Your connected fridge can alert you about missing or spoiled ingredients. Also, your bathroom scale can work with your smartwatch on your exercise routine. Your morning alarm clock – with right configuration – can start your drip coffee, heating, and gentle lights to help you wake up. Possibilities are almost unlimited. Does it sound like some pulp science fiction from the mid 20th century? Probably – but it is a reality now.
Unfortunately – with all the possibilities – there also are threats in dangers. IoT devices are known for the notoriously poor security. Cameras have been hijacked. Data has been leaked. Private conversation listened to. All those possibilities to make your life convenient can actually turn into threats. So security – or rather cybersecurity – of the IoT devices is the most important thing to consider. Going forward in the next few weeks I’ll try to make it clearer and give you some tips on it.
So stay tuned!
Bernard Swierczyna is the Chief Information Security Officer at First Ireland Risk Management. He is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) with more than 15 years experience in information and data security and over 20 years experience in IT. He is also a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).