Introducing your exciting new security headache: IoT

Published on the 07/02/2018 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

IoT security impact_Forrester

When it comes to the world of IoT, what you don’t know can hurt you...

The big rush is on. Remember Gartner’s prediction that 20 billion devices will be connected by 2020? So far the numbers are holding, as business, government and the consumer public start to embrace the wild world of IoT.

With so many businesses planning and deploying IoT solutions and with companies such as Dell and Rolls-Royce announcing shiny new IoT divisions, we seem to be entering the new golden age of ultra-connection.

The US has been leading the way in commercialising IoT data, now Europe is beginning to take the hint, and things seems to be getting serious: The B2B IoT segment alone is expected to balloon to US$300 billion annually by 2020.

There’s good reason for all this haymaking: The results are in and IoT rollouts can and do affect bottom lines.

“IoT delivers,” writes Erik Brenneis, director of Vodafone IoT, in the Vodafone IoT Barometer 2017/18. “Nearly all of the companies that have adopted IoT have already seen a return on their investment.”

“Those returns can be significant – where adopters reported an increase in revenue, the average was 19 percent. And we found that there’s a correlation between scale of adoption and return on investment achieved. Among those with up to 100 connected devices, 28 percent are seeing ‘significant return or benefit’; that rises to 67 percent of those with over 50,000 connected devices.”

But while business busies itself with the opportunities, security professionals are wondering just how we plan on protecting all that sweet data once it’s generated.

Forrester has done a fair whack of research in this space and yes, we’ve been found wanting.

“Security vulnerabilities are a significant worry for firms deploying IoT solutions – in fact, it’s the top concern of organisations looking at deploying IoT solutions,” said Christopher Voce

Vice President, Research Director at Forrester.

“However, most firms don’t consistently mitigate IoT-specific security threats and business pressures overwhelm technology security concerns. In 2018, we’ll see more IoT-related attacks like the Mirai botnet that caused havoc – except they’ll grow bigger in scale and impact.”

Research hype? Maybe not. Target’s 2013 breach – involving millions of stolen credit card details – was traced back to the hacking of an internet-connected heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Botnets and DDos attacks, APTs (such as the Stuxnet worm), ransomware, data theft, remote recording and that old standby, spam – the sordid list goes on.

And things are just as bad on the consumer side with users mostly unaware of the threats, let alone how to address them. One report found that only 14 percent of the consumers consider themselves knowledgeable about IoT security, a number concerning only given the fact that 54 percent of respondents already owned, on average, four IoT devices.

Right now the focus is on speed to market and with that comes the risk of a ‘fix-it-later’ mentality.

But here, as in so many other areas, blockchain might offer a solution. Some think that distributed ledger platform may help build more secure infrastructure for IoT, plugging some of the gaps caused by less-than-perfect implementations and easing some of the anxiety caused by simply ‘not knowing what we don’t know’.

Purchase the Forrester report, The State Of IoT Security 2018



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