HONEST Security’s Amber Holcomb discusses innovations in Internet of Things connected devices and how to keep IoT safe from cyber criminals.
Amber Holcomb is Director of Operations at HONEST Security. She is passionate about encouraging and supporting young women in STEM and empowering women in the tech industry.
“Alexa, play baby shark. ALEXA…ALEXA PLAY BABY SHARK?” my daughter yells throughout our house. I chuckle and remind her that we don’t own an Alexa. “Oh right, that’s grandma’s house!” she sighs with disappointment.
As a 31-year-old mother working in the information security industry, you would think I have every techie device available, but now I found myself laughing that my own mother has just as many, if not more, devices as I do. IoT (Internet of Things) devices are redefining how connected we are. From smartphones to smart homes there is no denying the rise of the IoT.
The IoT Revolution
Every second, 127 new IoT devices are connected—medical equipment in hospitals, smart boards in schools, in-car navigation available for your new vehicle, even wifi enabled coffee makers.
We are clearly in the midst of a technological revolution. In 2020, experts estimate the installation of 31 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Global spending is expected to reach $1.319.08 billion by 2026.
With the roll out of 5g promising faster speeds and the ability to connect more devices, it’s clear the network will super charge IoT technology. 5G will provide the infrastructure needed to carry large amounts of data leading to a smarter, more connected world.
IoT devices are advancing, improving and changing the state of technology. That revolution, however, will come with increased levels of risk, especially when surrounding security and privacy.
Securing Internet of Things Devices
Most of us are inundated every day by horror stories of data breaches, privacy infringement and stolen information. There are so many ways for things to go wrong when security is lacking.
Unfortunately, many of us have been compromised before, from banking information, to passwords, credit card information or sensitive emails. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it’s happened to someone you know. Now consider the risk of an IoT device with a camera or a microphone.
You are trusting these companies with the privacy of your home, with the chance of being spied on both in a physical sense through video and sound but also your sensitive data such as photos, addresses, and other files.
Prioritizing IoT Cyber Security
When researching IoT devices we must do our due diligence. Investigating these manufacturers should be second nature. Do they have a security presence? Do they make it easy for customers to report security-based issues? Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions such as “Do your products undergo rigorous security testing?” (testing not security audits).
Always be sure to look for multi-factor authentication, the requirement of complex passwords, and whether or not the manufacturer provides automatic verifiable security updates. While none of these are foolproof solutions, you can immediately raise the bar for what’s required to earn your consumer dollars.
Creating a Security Culture
These devices have and will continue to become deeply integrated into our daily lives. When it comes to IoT, we no longer have the luxury of putting security on the back burner or allowing half-baked solutions as industry standard.
The lack of critical safeguards such as multi-factor authentication and cryptographically insecure implementations of transport layer security, to ensure ease of use needs to be reconsidered. A modernization of security standards is now necessary.
Flying through the express lane of design and implementation to push to market can no longer be acceptable. Prioritizing security is the only way we move forward into further developing the rapidly expanding world of IoT.
The days of implicit trust in companies we know very little about are over. The future lies with us, the consumer, to do our due diligence and require all companies to begin with security before anything else. The majority of issues within IoT security lie in the design and implementation of the software and hardware that comprise the system.
The High Exploit Potential of Smart Devices
On top of already lackluster security in these products and apps, we then add in the ease of exploitation of SOHO routers. Home network security now looks like a castle by the sea protected by a wall of sand. The smallest test of its security will surely reveal vulnerabilities.
Fundamentally at its core, very few IoT devices and home networks are built with reinforced, top notch security. Add in the lack of education, awareness, and apathy of the typical home user, and you have ecstatic hackers everywhere effortlessly preying on the abundance of convenience and ignorance driven exploits.
We all know that with great power comes great responsibility. When security is prioritized and given proper consideration we can then celebrate and utilize the full advantages that IoT has to offer. We can enjoy the ease of communication and data sharing and the fun of voice-command. We can share the vast wealth of knowledge effortlessly available to hungry minds, and we can embrace the advancement of life saving and life changing technology.
The implementation of IoT is endless. Personal IoT is now and IoT is the future. We are using this technology to change the landscape of our entire reality. Let’s be sure to set ourselves up for success instead of suffering the consequences.