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When you left home this morning, did you lock the door?

Protecting your property is essential and so is protecting your data. Looking to the future, to properly keep yourself secure, you will have to consider cybersecurity as necessary as locking your door when you leave home.

In this age of new and emerging technologies we need new ways to secure our data.

Our constant reliance on technology in our everyday lives is going to require cybersecurity in every product we own. Take this example,  a teenager was grounded, with all access to her phone and internet removed. Yet, despite the parents believing they’d restricted their daughter from the internet, a tweet from her appeared a few hours later. She’d accessed her twitter account using the family fridge. The Internet of Things is giving greater access to the internet, conversely, it is also giving greater access for potential thieves into your home. Our constant reliance on technology in our everyday lives is going to require cybersecurity in every product we own.

In this article, we’ll outline some of the ways the Internet of Things is Going to Change Cybersecurity for us. Read on to find out how it could impact you.

Generational differences: Millennials vs Others

For people born in the last few decades, a life without the internet and technology is almost unimaginable. Millennials have grown up surrounded by technology, it is all they know. In contrast, older generations haven’t always lived with the internet, forcing them to learn in their older years. This sometimes leads to a lack of education over practices to keep their devices safe. Whilst anybody is able to be caught out by a phishing attempt, older generations are vastly more susceptible to the scam. The Internet of Things means a lot more opportunities for phishing strategies to try and access our information.

As impregnable as we think we are sometimes, as humans there is an element to our lives that leaves us susceptible to attacks. In some cases, we are too gullible and compromise our own data by visiting non-secure sites, creating unsafe passwords or downloading compromised data. Today if you look at hacking and phishing attempts, 70% of them are phishing. People aren’t thinking, they click a link they shouldn’t and are suddenly compromised. Educating people about the risks out there is vital to everyday cybersecurity.

What are the risks with smart technologies

The smart home market is huge, with predictions only showing it to get bigger. In fact, it’s forecasted to include nearly 1.3 billion devices by 2022, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 20.8%. This means more opportunities to have your data compromised. For example, have you heard about the hacks on smart thermostats? With new devices constantly being able to access the internet, companies have to repeatedly develop new firewalls and protection methods to keep customer’s information out of criminals’ hands. Despite the great work going on here, these firewalls aren’t keeping up with the rapid change that the IoT world is going through.

To combat the new risks associated with smart technologies, cybersecurity must evolve to deal with IoT threats. This means, in simple terms, that cybersecurity will come down to a constantly evolving defense strategy that prevents hackers from controlling your everyday tasks. Cybersecurity companies will have to remain in a constantly evolving defense position.

Security is everyone’s job

There are three parties responsible for keeping you safe. The first is the companies making the new technology, such as Amazon with Alexa. The second is cybersecurity companies. The third is the end-user. Everyone has their part to play and vigilance at every stage here is pivotal to create a secure environment. IoT companies will have to work to make their products secure-by-design and work to protect consumer information. Cybersecurity companies have to be constantly learning and evolving to the latest threats and providing countermeasures to these issues. Users have to be educated enough to understand the risks in front of them and what they can do to avoid them.

In summary for this point, security is everyone’s job – from the engineer working on product design to the contractor installing the system to the homeowner who operates the system daily.

Improved, Standardized & Regulated Cybersecurity Practices

There is a fundamental issue at the moment within the industry. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) can’t establish technological standards fast enough to keep up with emerging technologies.

An example of how this could be improved can be taken from Apple. All Apple iPhones are required to update so they are all on the same generation, in turn running on the same hardware. This makes it easier to secure its products from attacks.

Standardizing devices among one company can make security easier. But right now, there is no incentive for companies to invest money into developing cybersecurity measures for their products. Liability laws as they are currently aren’t able to hold companies accountable for non-secure products that can compromise consumers’ information. Cybersecurity laws need to be updated to protect consumers. California’s new SB 327 Law, which took effect in January 2020, requires all “connected devices” to have a “reasonable security feature.” We’ll have to see if this will work, but if so it’s a step in the right direction.

Personal & IoT Privacy

If our devices are constantly connected to the internet and we are always able to interact with them. This means we have to think about what we want to share if our smart devices are constantly listening. Imagine there was a device on your shoulder that live-tweeted everything you said, you probably wouldn’t want that right? Even though the data isn’t public knowledge or accessible, we are being listened to every day and we need to be cognizant of that.

Legality

To turn our attention to the law, what are the legal implications of the IoT? All this data is now discoverable and usable in legal cases. This also means it can be utilized and exploited in a court of law. Perhaps you read about the case of a Connecticut man who was charged with murdering his wife? Using data from his wife’s FitBit, the police were able to build enough evidence to charge him. Another example is when an Amazon echo was used to determine a murder case, at the consent of the defendant, when Amazon refused to release recordings based on a breach in their privacy rights.

The above topics are some of the most prescient in the changing world of Cybersecurity. However, they are only the tip of the iceberg. The depth and scale of our society that the IoT will impact are huge. Ensuring you are educated on the best practices and aware of the risks at stake to you are vital for keeping yourself secure in the future.


About the author

Chris Hinkle Trg Datacenters

Chris Hinkle is CTO of Houston-based TRG Datacenters. As a third-generation data center operator with strength in design he enjoys the cross-section of engineering and economics that data centers represent, and utilize experience owning data centers as feedback for design in many ways that your typical engineer misses from a desk.

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