You’ve probably seen the acronym ‘IoT’ in a lot of articles over the past few years but what does the ‘Internet of Things’ actually mean and how does it relate to cyber security?

Google ‘What is the internet of things?’ and you’ll get this definition.

cyber security - what is the internet of things

The fact that even the definition comes with a side note is perhaps cause for concern?

The possibilities are enormous – from refrigerators (already on the market) that are capable of ordering groceries online as they run out – to cars that can ‘talk’ to google maps and advise you on the best route to your destination, depending on live traffic conditions.

However, the fact is that the more ‘things’ that are connected, the greater the potential for issues.

Connected technology by its nature, is designed to make our lives easier but along with the benefits come new threats. As we add more and more devices to the ‘Internet of Things’, we create more and more access points for hackers to get inside our networks and systems and wreak havoc and new ways for malicious actors to cause harm.

The current concern with IoT devices is that a lot of manufacturers are not prioritising cyber security.

Thousands of low value IoT enabled products are being churned out every second. They are being created without really giving a second thought to the ramifications of connecting them to a home or business network and how that one device may weaken the entire network.

As consumers, we tend to trust blindly once we’ve made a purchase, especially if it is from an established or known company. However, the entire area of IoT devices is unregulated and for now it is up to us as consumers to do the necessary checks before we take the chance of connecting a device to our system or network. As business owners, GDPR means that we are accountable for ensuring any personal data we hold is kept secure. If an IoT device can compromise this, it is our responsibility to know about it.

Governments across the world are starting to realise the importance of cyber security.

They are now releasing IoT security guidelines or beginning public consultations on potential IoT regulations and laws.

Earlier this year, the UK government announced plans to introduce new IoT security laws for manufacturers of connected devices and next January, California will become one of the first regions in the world to have active IoT laws when their new cyber security law come into effect.

Unfortunately, until cyber security standards like these are rolled out globally, it will be necessary for us as consumers to put the onus back on the manufacturer. We must demand that they provide any information necessary to ensure that we are not put in a position where we are inadvertently compromising our own data or in the case of business owners – that of our customers.

According to the mid-year update 2019 from SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, global cyber attacks, specifically related to IoT malware, have increased by a massive 55%!

cyber security global-malware-attacks

In an excerpt from the report;

“IoT MALWARE SURGING PAST RECORD 2018 VOLUME

The speed and ferocity in which IoT devices are being compromised to deliver malware payloads is alarming. In 2017, SonicWall logged just 10.3 million IoT attacks. Last year, that number skyrocketed 215.7% to 32.7 million. In the first half of 2019, SonicWall Capture Labs threat researchers have already recorded 13.5 million IoT attacks, which outpaces the first two quarters of last year by 55%. If the final six months of 2019 match the surge of 2018, it will be another record year for cyber criminals’ use of IoT malware.”

cyber security 2019-global-cyberattack-trends

Read the full report

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Article References:
https://innovationatwork.ieee.org/california-becomes-the-first-state-to-sign-iot-cyber-security-law-into-existence/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/charlestowersclark/2019/05/02/uk-to-introduce-new-law-for-iot-device-security/#225d5a579dd2
https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/iot-malware-attacks/69870/
https://www.sonicwall.com/lp/2019-cyber-threat-report-lp/