The innovation that allows you to talk to a stubby gadget sitting on your counter in order to hear your favorite song, get a recipe for meatloaf, or purchase any number of products has become practically mainstream through things like the Alexa virtual assistant from Amazon. This example of the Internet of Things (IoT) just scratches the surface of what is currently possible. Today, you can track your steps and heart rate with a wrist monitor and transfer data to a phone app. You can lock your home or adjust your thermostat from halfway across town.
Smart homes, connected cars, health trackers, management automation tools for logistics companies and manufacturing plants and more make up the IoT. With all this wireless connection flying around through the air, some other things that have the potential of affecting how everything works these days are security problems.
How the Internet Of Things Challenges Security Methods
The more moving parts a system has, the greater the potential for problems. Also, due to the relative newness of this type of technology, more gaps in security could exist. The challenges that to create safe communication between all parts of the system from a phone app to a smart plug to an exceptionally high tech AI or machine learning system used in commercial applications are many. They differ in considerably unique ways from standard computer and gadget security issues that focus more on Internet interactions, connections, and data storage. The introduction of functionality adds another layer of complexity to safety concerns.
IoT Companies Put Profitability Before Security
Product profitability focuses on the need for creation and user-friendliness. Some companies push for new products to ride the wave of profitability without focusing enough on internal security measures. People want smart gadgets that are small, functional, and stylish to a degree. Occasionally, this leaves little room for built-in systems that handle deep encryption. In fact, some devices such as thermostats that measure temperature and other air-quality details are not sufficiently powerful enough to take care of security as well.
Connections Include Vulnerabilities
The actual connections between systems, gadgets, and apps or control programs also present a challenge when it comes to keeping everything safe. Any wireless connectivity comes with security challenges. No matter how detailed you create the encrypted passwords that control the gadgets or systems, vulnerabilities still exist.
Programs, Patches, and Updates Don’t Exist
When a consumer purchases an IoT electrical plug that turns on at a certain time and can be controlled from a far distance, they do not expect the need to upgrade its security features or patch its programming. Indeed, the manufacturer would not bother to create any updates anyway.
No incentive exists to create built-in security for these types of consumer products. They are essentially disposable when they stop working as intended due to their low costs and increasing availability.
Lack of Common Standards
While consumer smart technology remains dominated by the major computer, Internet, and retail companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, the IoT landscape keeps expanding. It does not take detailed proprietary information to create an inexpensive fitness tracker and app or a coffee pot that turns on when you tap a few icons on your smartphone.
Different manufacturers use a diverse range of frameworks to build smart technology on. Individual corporations create their own that work best for their unique needs. This necessitates a focus on in-house security rather than commonly understood protocols across the entire industry.
How to Solve IoT Security Issues
One of the most obvious ways that the Internet of Things could facilitate more effective security measures depends on everyone adopting a single framework or a small collection of one specific to different types of systems. These would need built-in security features of their own that are somehow regulated by the industry or some type of organization.
Read More: All Consumer IoT Devices Should Be Free
As little as the tech industry wants the government to get involved, even the FBI has released an IoT public security warning. The US government has put protections in place specifically for Internet of Things devices and systems used for governmental purposes, although they do not stretch to cover consumer or private commercial products.
Specific details needed to secure Internet of Things products include:
- Creating parts and devices immune to tampering or physical changes
- Writing software programs that cannot be hacked or edited
- Maintaining a habit of creating and sharing security patches and upgrades
- Appropriately testing every product for security vulnerabilities before release
- Actively fighting against malware and other damaging intrusions
- Building identification systems into each IoT device and app
- Only allow the use of secure networks and connections
- Educating both commercial and personal users about best practices and how to avoid potential security threats and weaknesses
In the end, the overall protection of businesses and individuals who use IoT products depends primarily on the tech companies who create them. Either through commercial pressure from buyers who insist upon top security features or through the standard adoption of good faith practices, manufacturers need to focus on this from the start. Every product, system, or device created should start with security and then build outward toward capability.