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In a recent blog, I took the time to explain what the IoT (internet of things) is and how it has changed the landscape of technology. The internet of things, or the connection of devices to the internet, is a double-edged sword that both simplifies and complicates our lives. These connected devices are accessed through the internet and can identify themselves to other devices, using embedded technology to interact with their surroundings. Some may argue that change and progress are inevitable, so there will always be new technologies, and while there may be no stopping the dawn of an age where our lives are inextricably bound to the internet, we should at least be prepared to manage it.

The connection of so many objects to the internet makes our world more vulnerable to hackers. If so many things all connect back to a shared database, it raises some alarming questions. Does that mean our watches could be hacked? Our cars? Even our homes? “Paradoxically, the very principle that makes the IoT so powerful- the ability to share data instantly with everyone and everything- creates a huge cybersecurity threat,” the Harvard Business Review reports.

Hackers are already clever, devising new methods to access personal information and confidential data. The Internet of Things could make it even easier for hackers, because all it would take is one flaw in the security chain to open the gate to a wealth of exploitable data. Here are some stats on how authoritative the Internet of Things has become and why we should be concerned:

Some stats

  • A survey from Cisco predicts that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020
  • A Hewlett Packard study revealed that 70 percent of IoT devices contain serious security flaws.
  • IoT is becoming a leading topic of conversation in the information technology sector; at the 2014 Black Hat Conference, many discussions were centered around it.

Threats

One of the major threats the Internet of Things poses is terrorism attacks. It’s not just data and personal information at stake, but national security. The Internet of Things gives hackers the ability to craft attacks not just from public networks, but also from private sources such as cars, smartphones, voice-activated devices like the Amazon Echo, and even appliances. As entire cities embrace the power of the internet to become “smart,” it also opens to door to large-scale attacks.

In order to derive the full benefits of the Internet of Things and prevent cyber attacks, the technology industry must actively take measures to leverage its best security practices and be vigilant about keeping systems updated with the most advanced antivirus software.