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Security and the Internet of Things (IoT)


The Internet of Things (IoT) has has exploded in popularity with more than 4.9 billion devices already in our homes and offices and more than 25 billion anticipated by 2020. Take a quick look around your own home or work space. How many objects are in some way connected to the Internet? Everything from medical devices to thermostats to cars make up the IoT. Online connectivity has allowed technology to personalize its services and settings to meet our unique and changing needs.

Companies, too, have recognized the growth. IBM has committed more than $3 billion in expanding its product line and services related to the Internet of Things. Other services have identified another important facet of IOT: security. HP conducted a 2014 study that found 90% of IoT devices connected to the Internet with an unencrypted service. More than 70% of all the devices surveyed had a wide range of significant security flaws.

For most, the benefits of connectivity provided by the IoT outweigh concerns for security but there are several ways to maintain the ability to connect and remotely manage devices without sacrificing personal privacy or even public safety. If a thermostat is compromised due to hacking, bills could skyrocket and a home or business environment could be made too hot or too cool. If a pacemaker or a car is hacked, however, lives could be at risk. The stakes for IoT security are high. Companies are working to close gaps and tighten access to devices. Consumers, too, can follow a few basic steps to increase their overall security on the Internet of Things:

  • Update, update, update. We know it’s a pain. For heavy tech users, updates pop up sometimes on a daily basis. While it may feel like a distraction, maintaining the most up to date software increases your protection about the most current and serious threats to IoT security. Take the time. Run the update. Install the patch.
  • Secure your network(s). The IoT devices at your home and office will only be as secure as these networks themselves. Ensure that your network is protected with a firewall and encryption. Routinely review your plan to keep your network secure. If you need additional ideas, Who is on my Wifi, has some helpful factsheets to walk you through the process.
  • Out with the old. Disconnect devices no longer in use. If your workspace or closets look like technology graveyards, it’s time to disconnect! Don’t just toss, donate, or give away your device. Take the time to reset settings and ensure that the device is no longer connected to your network. Old, unused connections are frequently targeted by hackers as an access point. If you are on the fence about upgrading, consider security as a potential motivator to go for the upgrade. A white paper report by WIND outlines how companies are now building security into more IoT devices from the bottom up.
  • Consider the source. As the competition in the market for IoT heats up, you have more choices than ever before. Choose devices from companies with a strong reputation for investing in security. Read the terms of services carefully and ensure you’re an informed consumer about what types and how much data can be accessed by your device. Postscapes is solid resource for the newest IoT devices as well as information on company investments in IoT.

The IoT opens the door to a more connected and streamlined future for technology. The same innovative intelligence that enables these devices to complete a wide range of tasks must also be utilized to help them identify and counteract potential security threats. Most IoT devices are not yet

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