It seems like more and more devices can connect to the internet in this day and age; the typical household has around 10 devices connected to the internet at one time, with about half of those being what we in the industry call “IoT” devices.
But, what is an IoT device? IoT stands for Internet of Things; Iot encompasses a wide variety of internet-connected devices, including wearable tech, toys and video games, and smart devices around your home or office. Firesticks, smart tvs, Google home devices, Xbox and Playstation game consoles, smart lights, and smart thermostats are all considered IoT devices. Recent estimates in tech spheres count almost one IoT device for every person in the world, or approximately 7.7 billion IoT devices.
What can an IoT do to help my day-to-day life?
Take an Echo Dot, for example – this device has many features, but it will allow you to quickly take voice memos, Send or receive phone calls, order things needed from Amazon, along with many other options. The Dot acts as a virtual assistant, assisting you in many task throughout your day. Need to know the weather? Ask Alexa! “Alexa, what’s the weather like today?” and Alexa, the computer intelligence residing inside Amazon’s IoT machines, will reply with a full forecast of the days weather.
Another interesting IoT is the smart lock. This device allows users to not only unlock/lock doors hands-free but can also secure doors remotely by the user, outside its local proximity. This allows for a better sense of security, where, in the case of losing your key, you can deactivate the lost one and activate a new key card within minutes, allowing yourself or other users access to your door again!
Could this lead to vulnerabilities?
IoT devices are designed to make life easier but, could that allow for easier access to your personal information. All IoT devices must be network-connected, which means they are constantly sending and receiving data. IoT devices could send different types of your data such as account information, payment information, and the location of the device itself, along with any other potential data it picks up along the way. Some vulnerabilities have been reported regarding the behavior of specific devices and the way they transmit data. Also, this data is going to be stored somewhere. If the server the data is stored on or the network it is accessed from isn’t secure, then all of the users data collected by their IoT device could be stolen.
What can we do?
It is important to user IoT devices with a ‘grain of salt’; that is, when providing data during initial setup and connection to home of office networks, to be very wary of the type of information your provide to devices, as well as the security settings and network access you allow. It is also important to make sure that all devices are kept up-to-date with product patches, as developers are constantly looking at ways to both secure known vulnerabilities, prevent new ones, and provide increasingly enhanced security.