Is the Internet of Things resulting in too much connectivity?

Published January 8, 2019   |   

Forbes recently argued that the Internet of Things (IoT) was actually fostering an age of the “Internet of Threats”, with the accessibility of connected devices putting user security very much at risk. This got us thinking. Will the dawn of IoT result in there being too much connectivity in the world? Is there really such a thing?

There is no doubt that more data and more connected devices can lead to problems. While this can be beneficial when it comes to analyzing user behavior as well as making our every-day life easier, it can also leave users exposed to a host of new vulnerabilities and attacks that are so substantial that it could be hard to know where to begin thwarting them.

One of the simplest but biggest issues of the 24/7 connected world is the use of unknown, unsecured networks to receive and share data. Although some people will be safe within the confines of their office network or a virtual private network (VPN), there will be others going about their daily lives entirely unaware of the potential risks unsecured networks such as Wi-Fi hotspots pose. Cyber-criminals lurk in unsecured networks, waiting to strike on users to steal sensitive data and information such as logins and passwords. Unsecured networks are available to everyone. Typical locations for unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots include airports, train stations, and even coffee shops.

A report by UK-based price comparison portal MoneySupermarket revealed some worrying statistics about IoT device usage among Britons. Although over three-quarters of UK consumers surveyed were fearful of connected home technology, the convenience and cost-saving benefits tend to outweigh the dangers, with users happy to blindly use connected devices without fear of the consequences.

A separate study showed that 54% of owners of IoT devices don’t yet utilize third-party security tools to protect their devices from external threats. Over a third (35%) still don’t even bother changing their passwords from the default or factory setting, leaving them wide open for cyber-attacks. Nevertheless, data is the lifeblood of any individual or organization; even more so in the IoT age. Your connected devices will have databases, files, structured and unstructured data that you didn’t even know existed. Data must be protected to keep prying cyber fraudsters at bay. That’s why data security solutions that protect sensitive data and identify vulnerabilities are increasingly in demand. They allow you to go about your everyday lives while monitoring all data activity in the background, while such a suite will also identify database vulnerabilities, discover and mask sensitive data and stop ransomware too.

Think of the fast-moving IoT landscape like the infant days of the internet. Back then, so-called “doomsayers” were focused on the danger of viruses, spam, and worms that compromised internet security, but those concerns were shrugged off by much of the online population. The problem is, they were right to be afraid. Individuals and organizations who believed the prophets of doom were overdramatizing matters eventually felt the brunt of cyber-attacks. It’s not inaccurate to say that we’ve reached a similar impasse with the age of IoT. It’s therefore vital that data security is taken more seriously than ever to guard against an attack via the most unlikely of devices, be it wireless light bulbs or central heating systems.