How secure is IoT?
Imagine this: you are browsing an internet forum when suddenly you come upon a link to a website. The user who posted the link claims that this website lets you spy on users’ surveillance cameras.
So you open the website and browse to a category with your country’s name on it. All of a sudden you feel shivers up and down your spine.
What you’re looking at is a live video stream of your home IP camera. You can literally wave at yourself. And it’s posted there for everyone around the world to watch.
A Nightmare Turned Reality
It sounds like a bad dream, but it’s real. There is a website called Insecam that streams video from tens of thousands of insecure cameras from all over the planet. Most of the cameras’ owners don’t even know their lives are being streamed on the internet. Creepy, huh?
This is just one of many examples showing how insecure the Internet of Things (IoT) is.
By 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide, estimates show. A considerable part of them will be insecure IoT devices.
We’re not talking just about cameras and routers here. Smart TV’s, refrigerators, air conditioners, blenders: all those items you’re used to seeing around your home can be hacked, as long as they have internet connectivity.
Security? What Security?
Sometimes hacking an IoT device can be as simple as looking up its default credentials. Because most users never change the default passwords of their smart gadgets, all a hacker needs to do is find the credentials online and use them to break into the device.
But IoT security, or rather the lack of it, isn’t just about household appliances. It spreads to industrial machinery, cars, fleet, industrial control systems, even ships.
Yes, ships can be hacked too. Well, their satellite communications(satcom) systems can, and that’s enough to cause big problems.
A hacker can breach a vessel’s satcom terminal, thus gaining access to the electronic chart systems that are needed to navigate. The malicious actor can then manipulate GPS coordinates and cause a shipwreck.
There is even an interactive map showing vulnerable ships around the world in real time.
Hacking Your Heart
Things get even spookier when you consider healthcare. Smart medical devices can be hacked and lead to life-threatening conditions.
An insulin pump, for example, can be manipulated to deliver the wrong amount of insulin, eventually causing the patient’s death. The same goes for pacemakers. Hack one of those and the patient dies.
With all those risks lurking around the corner, it’s no wonder the IoT security market is booming. It is estimated to reach $9.9 billion by 2025 as device manufacturers put more effort into data protection.
Securing the smart home seems to be the dominating segment of the market. It is set to hit $2.93 billion by 2025, providing a possible solution to all the vulnerabilities hiding in our kitchens.
Internet connectivity has made our lives much easier, but it comes at a price. Securing IoT devices will be crucial for preventing crimes like data theft, corporate sabotage, and even murder.
Like every new trend, IoT security takes time to catch up. In this case, it better happen sooner than later. Otherwise, we might end up in a technology-driven privacy hell.