The Importance of Security in an IoT World

fhafez    December 4, 2017

You’ve likely heard the phrase “Internet of Things” — or IoT — at some point, and you might also be scratching your head figuring out what it is or what it means.

IoT – the current ‘buzz’ term for connected or ‘smart’ devices, refers to rapidly growing network of connected objects that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. The IoT is connecting more devices every day, we’re headed for a world that will have 24 billion IoT devices by 2020. According to a recent report from Gartner, Inc., the number of connected IoT devices is forecast to reach 8.4 billion by the end of 2017 – up 31 percent from 2016Here are some examples:

  • Wearables (Fitbit) – that sends data on your daily activity to online servers, which could then be viewed on your smartphone.
  • Smart Home (Amazon Alexa) – that learn and adapt to your lifestyle, adjusting temperatures in the home for comfort or energy efficiency.
  • Smart TV (Samsung) – that can stream music, videos or photos from online services or other computers in the home. It can also interact with other smart devices, for example, displaying content from baby monitors and security cameras.

So chances are, if your using any of these connected devices, you’re already involved with the ‘Internet of Things.’ These devices show how IoT can add convenience to our lives, and ultimately offer us more control over the things we interact with every day.

How IoT devices work – Connected devices typically connect to the Internet through a home Wi-Fi network and router. These connected devices can sometimes talk to other related devices on the same home network and act on the information they get from one another. People can interact with the connected devices to set them up, give them instructions or access data, but the devices do most of the work on their own. All of this is made possible by tiny, embedded mobile components that allow almost anything to become ‘connected’. They rely on the always-online nature of our home and business networks, and often process data online via cloud-based software where huge amounts of data from many different users can be analyzed together. Internet of Things devices have an extremely broad range of applications across almost all industries, other benefits across a range of areas include:

  • Engineering – An IoT device in an engineering plant can alert maintenance personnel to an impending failure, averting a breakdown.
  • Smart Cities – IoT is also considered to be fundamental technology for smart cities, including smart traffic signals that monitor use and smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied.
  • Industry – within an industry, IoT can be used to all sorts of processes, such as supply chain tracking or crop monitoring.

When we talk about the future of development, the Internet of Things has to be included. As the market is growing at an exponential pace with many technological advances, security has become the number one topic when it comes to IoT device deployment in both consumer and business networks.  There has been a number of high-profile cyberattacks incidents which have illustrated the challenges posed by the growth of the IoT — Examples: 

  • Smart TVs – researchers discovered a flaw in smart TV transmissions and launched something called a ‘red-button attack,’ in which the smart TV data stream was hacked and used to take over apps shown on the TV. 
  • Smart Cars – a number of security researchers have shown how smart cars can be hacked and controlled. Students in China hacked a Tesla Model S electric car and made the doors fly open, the wipers wiped and the horn honked automatically. Apparently they simply cracked the password for the car’s mobile app.
  • Baby Cams – there have been a number of incidents in the US in which the internet connected baby monitors have been hacked. The hacker has then screamed at the child to wake up, or posted video feeds of the child onto the internet.
  • Heating – cybercriminals managed to penetrate the thermostats of a state government facility and a manufacturing plant in New Jersey, and were able to remotely chance the temperature inside the buildings.
  • Industry – hackers breached a steel plant and compromised numerous systems, including components on the production network. As a result, mill personnel were unable to shut down a blast furnace when required, resulting in “massive damage” to the system.

The U.S. received a harsh wake-up call about the importance of IoT security. A DDoS attack on October 21, 2016 created a massive Internet outage for millions of users.

The cases of IoT ‘hacks’ clearly illustrate on a larger scale that steps need to be taken to establish better security around IoT as a whole.

BullGuard knows that you and I, deserve more when it comes to security. A security company whose sole focus is the consumer, combining technical expertise with a genuine understanding of your needs to deliver complete protection across all connected devices. Your own private bodyguard – tracking and tackling security threats so you can connect confidently, control easily, and travel freely throughout your digital world. Dojo was formed to define the security of internet connected things, with a major focus on protecting smart home devices.

“Dojo by BullGuard is the cornerstone of a smart, connected home. It safeguards consumers’ privacy and protects their entire home network, but is also delivered in a way that is extremely easy for them to set up and use,” said Paul Lipman, CEO of BullGuard. “A smart home can quickly become a fool’s paradise when IoT devices are not properly secured. Dojo seamlessly protects the privacy and security of a consumer’s data, devices, home and family by monitoring the home network 24/7 against cyber threats.”

Product of the year!

The Smart Home Cybersecurity Solution Includes:

  • Dojo (hardware): A sleekly designed ‘pebble‘ that is easy to set up and free to move about the home while its dock remains connected to the Wi-Fi router. The Dojo pebble illuminates’ rings of light when suspicious or malicious activity is detected on the user’s Wi-Fi network. Yellow rings indicate that a risk has been detected and automatically mitigated, while red rings of light indicate that an action must be taken in the Dojo smartphone app. Green rings of light indicate that the user’s network is secured and their privacy is intact.
  • Dojo smartphone app (iOS and Android): Allows consumers to interact with the Dojo pebble via a simple, intuitive messaging interface, which grants them visibility and control of their Wi-Fi network and connected devices and informs them of potential cyber threats.
  • Dojo Intelligence: Dojo’s cybersecurity engine provides a tailored security policy for each device on the home Wi-Fi network. This policy is enforced by the Dojo device, which constantly monitors and mitigates both internal and external attacks. Dojo’s cloud-based platform utilizes highly sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, continuously analyzing device and service patterns to protect a consumer’s privacy even better over time, it listens to patterns, not your data. The more Dojo familiarizes itself with a home’s smart devices, the smarter it becomes in detecting and mitigating cyberattacks and privacy breaches.

Lessons for Others

What’s evident is that the IoT has become an important part of our lives. More effort needs to be made to secure IoT-related data to ensure the privacy of consumers and the functionality of businesses and corporations.

Security Session by Professor Jeremy Watson CBE – The Internet of Things: Opportunities and Threats.

Organization: BullGuard
Industry: IoT - Technology
Name of Organization Contact: N/A

Authored by: Farah Hafez

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