The Internet of Things (IoT)

By Joe Callison
26 April, 2016

The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined in Wikipedia as “the network of physical objects– devices, vehicles, buildings and other items– embedded with electronics, software sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.” The number of online devices equaled the world population in 2008. By 2020 it is expected there will be at least 6 online things per person in the world.

The explosion in number of online devices is going on all around us. Besides computers, tablets and smartphones we may already have smart televisions, DVD players, cars, thermostats, cameras and other home monitoring equipment, baby monitors, utility meters, and so on. There is growing concern that the rapid adoption of online devices is outpacing the ability to protect our privacy and security from threats.

Many of these online devices are implemented by companies that may have little knowledge and experience in securing access to information from the devices. The hardware and software embedded in the devices themselves is typically too simple and low-tech to provide effective protection and may not even be updateable to keep up with newly emerging threats. There have already been accounts of many of these types of devices getting hacked. Recently the app connected to a Fisher-Price WiFi-connected Smart Toy Bear was even found to be easily hackable!

There are a lot of articles and papers you can find on the internet proposing what should be done or can be done to protect consumers using online devices, but this is a problem that must be addressed primarily by the suppliers of the devices. If no new regulations, there should at least be industry standards for suppliers to follow, which does not seem to be the case at present. If you contemplate buying and using a smart device, you should at least confirm the manufacturer can provide a privacy policy and details of their security provisions, but realize that this is a real case of “let the buyer beware” for now.

Posted by Joe Callison

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