Preparing for the Unchecked Expansion of the Internet of Things
In 2016, Chinese manufacturer XiongMai Technology recalled 4.3 million camera products due to a security flaw that resulted in an enormous botnet taking down a large amount of North American internet, including Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, and Reddit.
The recalled camera products were Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and their vulnerability comes as no surprise. As companies rush to grab a share of the IoT market, we’re seeing product design and testing quality suffer, especially when it comes to device network security. So, how can you prepare for the unchecked expansion of the Internet of Things?
No longer a buzzword, the Internet of Things is becoming increasingly important. Its impact will soon be felt by everyone- for the most part in a positive fashion. But what IS the Internet of Things?
What Is It and What’s Next?
When we consider what the Internet of Things is, and what these ‘things’ are, the definitions become a little hazy. Some people will have you believe that literally anything connected to the internet is an IoT device. Others will happily inform you that an IoT device must comply with an exhaustive list including have a WAN connection (read: not LAN), not need a GPO, and contains an environmental sensor.
Over the coming years, we will see the Internet of Things:
- Become prolific throughout our everyday lives, being driven by the need for increased efficiency at both the enterprise level (e.g. intelligent irrigation controllers) and the consumer level (e.g. smart home thermostats)
- Define a new wave of technology companies, as start-ups develop unique ideas and are bought out, go bust, or make it big, and the current tech giants battle it out for market share in larger consumer areas
- Create huge strides in the big data market, which will enable us to learn more about how our environment is changing, monitor events in real-time, and discover more about the human condition
Do You Have to Worry?
Research firm Gartner believes that by 2020, we’ll have over 20 billion IoT devices operating worldwide, with some researchers predicting even more. This massive rush by organisations to push out new products should be extremely concerning for both consumers and the enterprise.
The enormous impact already felt from IoT devices has resulted in a clamour for open security standards and review processes. This would allow developers the utilisation of approved frameworks to ensure products meet today’s security requirements. Even though 20 billion devices may come to be in use in 2020, it won’t be the data gathered, but rather the security measures surrounding these devices that will have the largest impact on society.
What Can You Do?
It is increasingly important for organisations implementing IoT devices to ensure their LAN is based on robust network infrastructure and security practices. A secured network is the first and largest barrier to exploiting vulnerable IoT devices. If implemented and managed correctly, it will ensure your organisation isn’t sacrificing computational power to an international botnet that ends up taking down global enterprises, costing millions in lost revenue, and seeing your organisation #trend on twitter for all the wrong reasons.
If you’re interested in learning more about securely implementing IoT devices and preparing for the expansion of the Internet of Things, speak to our team. Our ICT Consultants can help you strategically align security and threat management with your objectives.
Duncan Macdougall is a Project Engineer at CHW Consulting with extensive experience designing, developing, and documenting networked systems and information systems. His most recent projects include the Sunshine Coast University Hospital & Monash Children’s Hospital. He holds a Bachelor of Information Technology & Systems.