How IoT Can Become The Biggest Security Nightmare

IOT Nightmare

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the integration of devices (things) with the internet. It is what technology enthusiasts and visionaries call the future of the internet. But is it safe?

You arrive home one day only to discover that someone breached into your cloud-enabled home security system, and your house has been robbed. How can this happen? Well, if you’re an early adopter of the Internet of Things, you may find the answer the hard way.

IoT is everything which is connected to the internet in one way or another. For example, a smart refrigerator may email you when you’re running out of milk; or a smart alarm clock may start your coffee maker only when you turn off your alarm and get out of bed.

These devices are networked together and uplinked to a cloud where you can access the information no matter where you are in the world. Even when you are away from home, you can easily plug in to everything at home. It’s a futurist’s dream, but it’s also a security expert’s nightmare.

What is IoT and How can it be so dangerous?

So what the IoT is in reality? Aside from the pie-in-the sky future vision written above, there are already technologies branching into this realm.  For example, the present smart watches are considered a first of the IoT concept.

Smart watches are wearable devices which log how many steps you take, distance you travel, calories you burn, and even when and how well you sleep. They can also ship off all your data into an online profile that you can use to watch your progress.

It’s a fun and convenient way to be in shape, right? But, with the Internet of this thing storing all of your private health and activity data, you can imagine just how valuable that may be to various people. Marketers and hackers would love to learn whether you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, whether you struggle with weight, your daily routine, or how often and how much you travel.

Smart cameras can also be hacked to spy on you. The security dangers of data collected by such devices may not seem very harmful, but when you look at how much information they reveal about you – it can be extremely disconcerting.

Smart refrigerators may reveal your eating habits and food preferences. Location data from smart cars can help crooks in deducing when you’re away from home. Essentially, any personal data about you that makes it onto the internet can be exploited against you.

Security Weak Links

So what are the weak points in the world of Internet of Things? The danger is present at every “junction” in the system, meaning that wherever the devices link to the Internet, and where the data is transmitted to some secure destination.

Stuart Dommett, Cloud & SDI, IT Evangelist at Intel explained it best in an interview:

“You’re going to have to secure the device or the sensor, you need to secure the data, and you’re going to have to secure that across an open network – it really is a massive, massive change.”

This is similar to email scams, where the security dangers are mostly related to the device side of things – from users falling for phishing scams, to malware and adware stealing their data and passwords. In the case of smart sensors, the existing data on the sensors is vulnerable. The data being wirelessly transmitted from the sensor to the internet, and the data transmission to the remote server is also at risk.

In the future, these sensors will include home thermostats, health monitoring devices, automobile monitoring and navigation, and a bounty of smart appliances that are already showing up on store shelves today. That means each one of the "smart” sensors you’ll be bringing into your life will become yet another potential security vulnerability.

Forget about the current hacking incidents, the main worry in the future will be if someone remotely disables your “smart” home security system, or hacks into your health monitoring system and learns every detail of your medical and personal history.

Is IoT Doomed to Hackdom?

Is the sky falling when it comes to IoT? Is our world inevitably going to become a goldmine for hackers looking to peek into every aspect of your life?

If security experts out there have anything to say about it, the answer will hopefully be an emphatic “no!”

In fact, there is a solution to a problem which hasn't even started yet. And that solution is what we call a VPN. A VPN shall be extremely helpful in the world of IoT. Its powers of anonymity, privacy and security will ensure that your system remains safe and away from the eyes of hackers and cybercriminals.

A premium VPN service, like PureVPN, encrypts your online communications, making it impossible for anyone to peek through or somehow get access to your data. Once you connect your smart devices to a VPN network, hackers shall never be able to monitor or get access into them.

Other features like the Dedicated IP option further enhances your online security. Since you would be the only person on the planet able to access that IP address, it would restrict data snoopers and crooks from getting access to your devices or your private data.

So are you going to embrace the Internet of Things? Or are you going to avoid it like the plague? Do share your thoughts on the subject with us!

Sheheryar Ahmed Khan is a privacy enthusiast, currently affiliated with PureVPN. His reporting covers subjects related to online privacy, anonymity, and security. Also a believer in online freedom, Sheheryar likes to spend his free time streaming football matches and TV shows online.

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