Right now, there are over 3 Billion devices connected to the internet. Most of which, we really don’t want someone hacking into. The number of connected devices is increasing exponentially as a product of the growth in IoT (Internet of Things) devices and those devices are surrounded by controversy regarding their current level of security.
What is an IoT device? In short, it’s any device that has been given the capability of communicating over an IP network. Said another way, IoT devices include hardware that permit two-way communication over a Wi-Fi network. Think light bulbs that can tell you whether they are on or off and can be controlled from anywhere on the planet with an internet connection. The more of the items in your life that can communicate this way, the greater the threat of hacking.
There have already been numerous videos and demonstrations of hackers taking control of vehicles that have embedded network connectivity. While the idea of someone having remote control of your automobile is threatening, the greater threat is the one you won’t see. Imagine having the entire record from your driving habits and behaviors ending up in unwanted hands. If a hacker can take data from your vehicle, it would be on point to assume they can take information from much smaller and cheaper devices. So, who exactly regulates and makes sure that the security in our IoT items are actually secure? Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is currently trying to fill in the gap that consumers might be feeling relative to IoT and security concerns.
So what’s the “gap” that Underwriters Laboratories is currently trying to fill in? Well, as with computers, IoT items can have firmware and software. As you probably know, your software/firmware usually gets upgraded/updated when there has been a fault or weak-point detected in the product. Imagine you purchase a car that is “unhackable”, only to find out 5 months later that a hack has been developed to target your car. What do you do until the company releases a fix? In addition, the manufacturer still has the same certification on the window which leads new buyers to think that they are safe when truly, that isn’t the case.
The products you purchase can go through many security tests before they leave the factory, however, as time goes on, vulnerabilities can still be found. If the manufacturer isn’t continuing to support their products after release, you may want to avoid their products or the entire solution itself. As our IoT technology gets more advanced and intuitive, a hacker’s arsenal is doing the same. The key take away is that purchasing and using IoT devices comes with some of the same overhead that keeping and maintaining a regular PC does. Always make sure to pay attention to what updates your IoT items have. As annoying as updating a device’s software is, it’s important to keep yourself ahead of the hackers trying to find your vulnerabilities.