The internet of things (IoT) has been described as “the infrastructure of the information society.” It’s the internetworking of all ‘connected’ or ‘smart’ electronic devices such as the tablet in your hand, phone in your pocket or the printer in your office, all of these physical devices are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable them to collect and exchange data. Thus, the internet of things.
According to Pedro Abreu, chief strategy officer at ForeScout, “The IoT is the new battleground for security.”
To Abreu’s point, firms around the world have spent the past two decades using firewalls, antivirus and anti-malware tools to build layers of protection around servers and PCs. But it’s what Abreu calls the “unusual suspects” that can wreak havoc. Hackers are weaponizing digital cameras, video conferencing systems, DVRs and other Internet-connected devices, triggering massive distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks that can grind websites to a halt.
Recent cyberattacks that harnessed digital devices to cripple websites confirm the concerns that many cybersecurity experts have had about the security threat posed by the internet of things. Many connected corporate-owned devices like fax machines have outdated firmware and can be hacked in minutes, according to new research from ForeScout Technologies.
It’s been predicted that some 20 billion connected devices will be deployed by 2020, with as many as a third of these sitting unknowingly vulnerable on enterprise, government, healthcare and industrial networks across the globe. The International Data Corporation itself predicts that two-thirds of enterprises will experience IoT-related security breaches by 2018, spelling a brave new world for data security firms and professionals.
While the business world has borne the brunt of many recent cyber attacks, individual users are just as at risk. Viruses and malware specifically engineered to target mobile devices and cloud information centers that back them up are becoming increasingly problematic. While Apple iPhones remain themselves relatively secure, Android devices are a different animal entirely. For Android devices, potential viruses are most often delivered via apps installed on your device.
This is certainly true of infamous viruses like Gunpoder, Ghost Trojan, Mazar and Godless; which all invade Android devices via apps and can often load those same devices with malicious processes that install apps, display ads and even steal your personal information.
As the IoT continues to take over our digital world, remember to include those devices as part of your cybersecurity plan. The next IT security battleground has arrived.