Cyber Security and Security of Data in the Internet of Things
Today technology has gotten to a level where the Internet of Things is an unavoidable reality. Now, an average person has at least three devices connected to the internet, including a smartphone and a personal computer. These already collect significant information about individuals which are used by different systems to make their lives better. As such, with more devices, it will be possible to improve the quality of life for different people, especially when these devices are interconnected. However, what is supposed to be beneficial has the challenges that make it a risky venture. Although the Internet of Things is expected to change things for the better, it is marred with many challenges which might eventually make it disadvantageous.
About the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things refers to a network of physical objects with the ability to identify each other and interact with other devices that use technology to manipulate the internal and external conditions. In IoT, smart devices are not just limited to computers, tablets, and smartphones (AlDairi, & Tawalbeh, 2017). On the contrary, it refers to other devices that are designed to be technologically ‘smart’ and can produce usable intelligence. The IoT is also increasingly becoming a practical idea today where many people use devices connected to the internet.
Because of rapid technological development, most aspects of the lives of people have to be connected to the internet. The number of devices per person is increasing by the day, and it, therefore, would have been convenient if they work together to make life easy for the individual. This interconnectedness also has the potential to impact many people and businesses (Abomhara, & Køien, 2015). IoT will mainly depend on the cloud and other sensors such as cameras, which will have many apps to interact with them. At the moment, Cloud computing is still in dire need of improvements which the security for ensuring the integration of all these systems does not exist per se. The fact that it is many devices bundled together means uneven and often insufficient security.
What is more, the systems are increasingly being used, which means a lot of data is being collected in an unprecedented manner. For them to be well secured, it is important for the available systems to be redesigned since they are experiencing significant stress already. The number of devices being interconnected provides vulnerabilities where data protection, privacy, governance, safety, and trust are concerned. The Internet of Things stands to bring about immense benefits, but for that to happen, there has to be attention and a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the potential challenges.
The Internet of Things is a technological development that is significantly changing the cybersecurity landscape. In the IoT, an object that can only identify itself becomes more significant by interacting with other objects and passing an extensive amount of data through. Although the IoT is significantly beneficial in everyday life, it also presents a new level of vulnerability. With the IoT, more sensitive personal and business data will be easily collected and will exist on the cloud. All of these could be passed through many devices with their forms of vulnerabilities. Any weak link in the channel means that hackers and other unauthorized parties will have limitless ways of unlocking the data.
Today, privacy has been a significant issue, especially because of the ability that technologies such as social media sites have when it comes to collecting data. Although users can be able to take their precautions, such as installing anti-malware systems and using passwords, it is still tough for them to guarantee safety (Li, Xu, & Romdhani, 2017). Hackers today use not only sophisticated technologies but also do it on an unprecedented level. This information they get not only from the public but also private networks such as those in cars, home automation systems, and smartphones. What is more, today, devices are more connected to the internet than people, which increases the attack surfaces that hackers can utilize (AlDairi, & Tawalbeh, 2017). Increased surface of operation increases the vulnerability of the system outright. Regardless of how secure it might appear, it could only take some time for the hackers to find their way into the system and on important information.
At the moment, it is estimated that 70% of the devices used in IoT have serious vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, the system is still being finessed. In the development, it would be important to ensure that the security systems will work without the input of the user as well as leveraging the different capabilities to get the best protection (Conti, Dehghantanha, Franke, & Watson, 2018). With time and investment in innovative strategies, it will be possible for the manufacturers and designers to provide the best possible security solutions. With these, it will be possible to significantly improve the lives of everybody that uses it. Such benefits also make it possible for the involved stakeholders to benefit (AlDairi, & Tawalbeh, 2017). There will be more sales and the entire supply chain will be able to benefit and build their business. However, all that depends on whether the system will be secure enough for them to carry out their businesses securely.
IoT provides a lot of opportunities in today’s world. Among these is the new business opportunities. Because of the interconnectedness, both people and the collected data will make it easier to have knowledge and act on it. For instance, businesses will know what their clients desire and will find out the most practical way through which to make the change (Abomhara, & Køien, 2015). IoT also stands to improve the revenue growth of businesses. IoT can be used in creative ways to improve business and thus, the income earned. Such information also makes it easy and possible for businesses to make informed decisions. Reasons for such decision making includes real-time updates and more accurate fact-finding.
IoT also can improve the safety and security of the user. Because of its interlinked nature, one can optimize the sensor to inform him/her in case of something unusual. That way, they can always be vigilant and well prepared for whatever is about to come. On a national scale, the IoT has improved the quality of lives of citizens (Li, Xu, & Romdhani, 2017). The IoT comes with the ease of living, communication, and access. For instance, it is possible for a citizen to pay his taxes from a remote location without any stress. Such benefits make life easy to live. The IoT also mean improvement in infrastructure. When embedded in cities, for instance, it can help reveal the number of people their vis-a-vis the particular resource being monitored.
The growth of IoT will also push for the further development of IT technologies. These include cloud computing and data mining technologies which have to evolve thanks to the volume of data today (Conti, Dehghantanha, Franke, & Watson, 2018). Companies that specialize in manufacturing IoT products and related services will also grow financially and will finesse their offerings to be more practical. Companies manufacturing the devices, smart sensors, application developers, and service providers amongst many others, will all benefit from the development of IoT. In essence, by 2020, the IoT will have generated over $900 billion by 2020.
IoT will also have a significant impact on various business sectors. Amongst the key sectors that have been enriched by IoT includes the education, healthcare, retail, hospitality, communications, agriculture, and transportation industries. The healthcare industry is arguably one of the biggest beneficiaries of IoT. Possibilities that IoT stand to bring to healthcare shortly includes not only what they are suffering from now but also what their potential ailments could be (Abomhara, & Køien, 2015). There could also be sensors that monitor patients and either recommend a course of action for the patient or alert emergency services if there is a need. IoT could also put in place highly automated solutions that could administer any critical treatments without the need for human interference.
In the education industry, the system stands to make conventional processes automated. There are interactive classrooms which make it possible for the students to learn more and participate in the class. There are also various technologies in schools that can track student attendance and performances amongst others. These could help them improve their performance. The manufacturing and industrial worlds also benefit significantly from the IoT (Savas, & Deng, 2017). One of the gains that these two have experienced is the improvement of safety and efficiency thanks to the control of automated systems. Advanced sensors are currently being used to optimize the plant and energy functions as well as security management (AlDairi, & Tawalbeh, 2017). The industry of financial services also uses the internet for many of its services. These include the significant upgrading of the digital infrastructure used in the industry.
Telecommunications companies also will experience a spike in the usage of data, which means big business for them. They will also have the incentive to be innovative with the challenges that come with the IoT, including infrastructure security and privacy. A device that will significantly impact the IoT is the car. When a car is connected to one’s device-ecosystem, it will be possible to get completely new information about the individual (Conti, Dehghantanha, Franke, & Watson, 2018). Although most homes are connected and workplaces, as well as schools, are becoming increasingly connected, many cars are not. People spend a lot of time in cars, and information from it could be valuable. However, it increases the attack surface for hackers and comes with its unique challenges.
The Cybersecurity Threats
With the rapid growth in technology and the IoT, the security challenges being experienced continue increasing and changing fast. Apart from the stress that the current systems are being subjected to by the data volume, hackers are constantly working using unprecedented technologies. As such, it is becoming tougher and more challenging to keep the data secured (Abomhara, & Køien, 2015). Although these organizations have security measures in place, the workers are committed to overcoming them. Sometimes it might take long, but it does work and has often jeopardized the privacy of some people and businesses. Their strategies and technologies also advance by the day and could eventually be able tough to beat.
So rapid is the change that it is impossible to say what kind of threats will be common in 10 years. What is for sure is that even if the current cyberthreats are solved, there will come other new ones (Conti, Dehghantanha, Franke, & Watson, 2018). Point solutions such as fireworks and antiviruses are effective at protecting data from users but are increasingly becoming less effective as hackers are finding ways to go around them. Traditionally, the organization owned and controlled most of the information it dealt with. However, with mobile technology, the information is often out of its boundaries. For that reason, they become vulnerable and capable of falling in the arms wrong people.
What is more, the IoT is making it tough for the organization to create a limit and boundary that will help protect the data. Because of the kind of devices used and their security protocols, it is almost impossible to protect the collected data. In particular, the speed with which technology is changing is making it tough to find security protocols that will help protect data for a long time. In the normal world, there is value in moving fast (AlDairi, & Tawalbeh, 2017). Businesses might thus be able to carry out mergers, acquisitions amongst others in a fast manner. That becomes challenging because a lot of information gets collected rapidly. It thus makes it tough for the development of better technologies to be prepared.
Another reason why IoT poses challenges is because of the development and use of mobile technology. With mobile computing, there comes the blurring of organizational limits and boundaries. With mobile technology, the information tends to move towards the client and further away from the organization. The use of smartphones tablets ensures that the stakeholders of the organization can be able to access its information from without the firm’s confines, that means that its vulnerability multiplies significantly (Savas, & Deng, 2017). What is more, one device being vulnerable could mean that the entire network is in jeopardy, and information could be accessible to unauthorized people. For instance, a robber could get access to the smartphone of a person with an in-house camera whose information they can use to plan a robbery and attack.
The current security infrastructure is also another reason that the technology of IoT is facing significant cybersecurity challenges. At the moment, the infrastructure is mostly reactive. As such, those in charge of security management wait for a person to successfully hack them before they can come up with a working solution. For that reason, regardless of what security protocol the system comes up with, the attackers will spend their time and energy to cut it out. For instance, there are closed and secure technology systems which have to have a public IP. The hackers then get into the system using this public information and weaken the entire system. With that action, the entire system becomes useless and needs further development.
For the internet of things to operate well, one of the things that could help is the smart meters and energy grids. With these smart meters and grids, the entire lifecycle will benefit at one point. These benefits include the ability to match the demand and supply that the IoT presents (Savas, & Deng, 2017). It will also become cheaper to operate thanks to the remote management of the entire system. There will also be consumers that are better informed because of the real-time availability of consumer data. Nevertheless, unless the implementation of the meter and grid are done properly, there would still be some vulnerabilities that mean security threats will still exist.
The smart meter involves infrastructure that is made up of various internetworked systems. That means different technologies and security levels. That means that it will be challenging. Nevertheless, if the different networks and their entire ecosystems are connected to the grid, it can be possible to standardize and regulate the different systems and mechanisms. It, therefore, depends on the different players that include private businesses as well as the government. If none of these individuals play their roles, it will be tough to regulate the information that is collected constantly with the organizations. The strategy of collaborative security will require different roles to be well defined and designed such that everybody can play their part without any conflict.
There must also be a significantly new comprehensive security approach. While still using the smart metering system, it can be possible to implement a defense strategy that is in-depth and multifaceted. They should not only be designed for threats that exist but also those that do not. The system should be detective, corrective, and preventive. There should also be a framework of governance, including appropriate procedures and policies that are designed to improve the strategy of the system.
It is possible for organizations to get ahead of crime. Organizations should always be in a state of readiness, which means them having and promoting intelligence strategies that can be able to protect the business information. It also means that the organization should be able to define the extended cybersecurity ecosystem, including suppliers, partners, and business networks, amongst others (Abomhara, & Køien, 2015). A cyber-economic approach will also be good for the cybersecurity of the organization. That means that the involved systems should understand the different assets and their value. A state of readiness also requires the constant use of data analytics and intelligence about cyber threats. Lastly, the organization should be able to appreciate the importance of both governance and security. With that, it becomes possible to use the controls correctly and in an accountable manner.
The Internet of Things is a network of many devices that people will have around them. Although the system is supposed to be beneficial and simplify the lives of those that use them, it has a significant challenge which could make its shortcomings worse. Because of the use of different devices, it becomes impossible to have a standardized and regulated security system. Because of these many loopholes, it becomes possible for hackers to get access to the network, which in turn will give them the information they should not be accessing. There are many reasons as to why the cybersecurity issue persists, especially in the case of the IoT. These include the speed of change both within and without the industry. The infrastructure, use of mobile networks as well as the cloud computing are also issues that make the problem persistent. However, organizations can prepare themselves for any form of attack by being in a state of readiness. On a general level, on the other hand, the use of a cooperative system can make it easy to manage the security system.
- Abomhara, Mohamed & Køien, Geir. (2015). Cyber Security and the Internet of Things: Vulnerabilities, Threats, Intruders and Attacks. Journal of Cyber Security. 4. 65-88. 10.13052/jcsm2245-1439.414.
- AlDairi, A., & Tawalbeh, L. (2017). Cyber Security Attacks on Smart Cities and Associated Mobile Technologies. Procedia Computer Science, 109, 1086–1091.doi:10.1016/j.procs.2017.05.391
- Conti, M., Dehghantanha, A., Franke, K., & Watson, S. (2018). Internet of Things security and forensics: Challenges and opportunities.
- Li, S., Xu, L. D., & Romdhani, I. (2017). Securing the internet of things.
- In Savas, O., & In Deng, J. (2017). Big Data Analytics in Cybersecurity.
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