The IoT (Internet of Things) is a movement towards what’s expected to be a hugely profitable industry; more and more technological devices will be connected the internet and remotely accessed by mobile devices and computers miles away from the actual source.
There is a lot to be gained from these upcoming services, but many are also worried about the connection of more and more devices to the internet; with the constant stream of terrorist attacks affecting large and often extremely secure companies all over the world, connecting even more devices to the internet makes a larger portion of our lives susceptible to malicious hackers (now called crackers, which I think is sort of an oversight).
According to some projections, by 2016 there will be around 6.4 billion devices connected to the internet. This number will increase by an astounding 5.5 million devices per day, until about 20 billion devices are connected in 2020.
In response to this rapid development, the FBI recently released a public service announcement that the Internet of Thing’s development will indeed make more users more vulnerable to cybercrime.
It listed the following devices as ones which could make civilians vulnerable once connected to the Internet: automated devices that remotely or automatically adjust the lighting or HVAC, thermostats, wearables like fitness devices, and smart appliances like refrigerators and TVs.
According to the FBI PSA, crackers “can use these opportunities to remotely facilitate attacks on other systems, send malicious and spam e-mails, steal personal information, or interfere with physical safety.”
It’s without a doubt a creepy idea; a cracker/burglar that hacks into your IoT network could switch off the lights in your house, open any electrically-powered safes, and start using your personal coffee machine to make him or herself an espresso if he/she sees fit .
Especially creepy: because IoT devices are gradually expanding to include medical devices that dispense medication to people that are ill and tubed up, cybercriminals could even hack into someone’s medical device and mess with their prescribed medicine. Imagine if a murderous cracker were to hack into a patient’s medicine dispenser and give him or her a deadly dose of morphine, for example. That’s terrifying.
People have had even more horrible ideas such as criminals hacking into baby monitoring systems at home and in day care centers to watch young children, hacking into automated home devices like garage doors and security devices to gain access to a home, and even hacking into gas pumps that have joined the Internet of Things to “cause the pump to register incorrect levels, creating either a false gas shortage or allowing a refueling vehicle to dangerously overfill the tanks, creating a fire hazard, or interrupt the connection to the point-of-sale system allowing fuel to be dispensed without registering a monetary transaction.”
Plenty of companies have validated these risks by preparing for the potential attacks. Microsoft, for example, has announced new security efforts with its Windows 10 IoT Core, which focuses on offering enterprise-level security to private and public clients that use IoT devices, even those without screens.