The security risks, and the promise of, the Internet of Things

Jason Hope, who back in September wrote on how one of the greatest impediments to the much-touted Internet of Things (IoT) was not security, but the lack of a standardized protocol that would enable devices to communicate, has continued to write on both this topic and IoT security. While The Gimlet Eye had great fun lampooning the very notion of Thingys Talking and Doing Things Against Their Will [TTA 22 Sept 15], and this Editor has warned of security risks in over-connectivity of home devices (see below), relentlessly we are moving towards it. The benefit in both healthcare monitoring/TECS and safely living at home for older adults is obvious, but these devices must work together easily, safely and securely. To bend the English language a bit, the goal is ‘commonplaceness’–no one thinks much about the ubiquitous ATM, yet two decades ago ‘cash machines’ were not in many banks and (in the US) divided into regional networks.

As Mr Hope put it as the fifth and final prediction in his recent article:

The IoT Will Stop Being a “Thing”
How many times in the past week have you said, “I am getting on to the World Wide Web?” Chances are, not very many. How many times have you thought about the wonder of switching on a switch and having light instantly? Probably never. Soon, the Internet of Things, and connectivity in general, is going to be so common place, we also won’t think about it. It will just be part of life and the benefits and technology that wow us right now will cease to be memorable.

This Editor continues to be concerned about how hackers can get into devices, and more connectivity means more concern about weak points (that connected fridge! that weight scale!) as points of entry into our computers and homes. It is good to know that Mr Hope shares these concerns. Two subsequent articles caution that we should demand security in everything from fitness trackers to toys, and what we think of as low-impact vulnerabilities (a chip in a 1990s toy connected to a mobile app), as that chip is used or that product is developed without fixing the initial flaw, ultimately can do even more damage to our everyday lives as a high-impact threat (a hacked, runaway Jeep).

Many thanks to Jason Hope for being in touch with us re the September article. More articles by this entrepreneur and investor are indexed at Tech.Co (tech startup news and resources), including his take on connected devices at CES 2016.

Related TTA reading on IoT security: Is IoT really necessary–and dangerous? and Is wearable IoT really necessary–and dangerous to your privacy?

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