from The future is connected and it’s on us to secure it
by Anasia D’mello
The Internet of Things is celebrating a milestone birthday this year, says Charles Eagan, CTO at BlackBerry. Back in 1999, British technologist Kevin Ashton coined the term Internet of Things (IoT) while developing sensor and identification technologies at MIT. Today, as the now-ubiquitous term turns 20 years old, I can’t help but reflect on how far the concept has come in such a short time.
But the IoT revolution has also presented great challenges over the past two decades, and security is now the most critical issue facing those at the forefront of the digital transformation age. We’ve connected countless things in the spirit of IoT; now, we must secure all the things we’ve connected.
The internet revolution has touched virtually every industry or sector. Take the air travel industry, for instance – until recently, internet connectivity was unavailable at 35,000 feet, and passengers busied themselves with in-flight magazines instead of email or Slack. But with Wi-Fi now increasingly available on flights around the globe (and with 5G internet that creates access speeds akin to Wi-Fi), modern air travel has opened the potential for a cyberattack that could have devastating, dreadful, or even deadly consequences.
And these issues aren’t limited to the skies – they also present themselves on the frontline of combat, too. Soldiers now rely on wearable technology, and military devices aren’t limited to the top of a helmet; they also run up and down a soldier’s arms and legs. These devices communicate orders and highly-critical information. But if the technology isn’t secure, hacks could see soldiers unknowingly walk straight into the line of fire.
Even democracy can be drastically impacted by the lack of secured connectivity. Ballot boxes that use technologies are at risk of being hacked, which could undermine the very foundations our societies are built upon.
These are issues that impact all of us. Look at smart homes: internet-enabled light bulbs, smart displays, and voice-activated assistants offer new conveniences in our lives, but they’re also opening attack vectors that could leave your personal details – or even your home – accessible to unscrupulous people.
Healthcare is another area that is close to all our lives. Internet-connected pacemakers can allow for software updates, while also providing doctors with patient access much faster than previously possible. Yet, if there is a lack of security in these devices, the patient’s very life could be at risk. Simply put, we must match the pace of innovation with the pace of security.
Convenience without security is not convenient – it is an open invitation for risk. Our society is already joined together by many of these connected devices, and stories of the latest security breach seem to populate our news feeds almost daily. So as the IoT prepares to enter its third decade, security is set to define its ongoing success.
Within the next five years, the presence of these connected devices will grow exponentially. Securing the IoT is not a task for the future, it’s a task for the present – it’s never been more […]
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