Harnessing the Game-Changing Potential of Internet of Things Starts with DDoS Security

By: Dave Larson

With each passing day, there is a new market study praising the game changing potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) for businesses and consumers. Research firm Gartner estimates IoT’s growth is increasing at a rate of 5.5 million new connected devices per day, and is expected to grow to 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020.

In this era of the Internet of Things, digitally-connected devices are becoming integral to our lives at our homes, offices and even in our cars. The benefit is that this paradigm shift allows consumers and businesses the ability to do things that we’ve never thought possible.  IoT provides businesses with an opportunity to achieve new efficiencies and savings in their supply chain or gain access to more real-time data to facilitate faster and more-informed decision making to a customers’ needs or changes in the market. Consumers benefit from greater convenience in their everyday lives, and the ability to send and receive information to and from these devices in real-time.

Since the birth of the Internet, technological advances have allowed us to mobilize our communications, automate everyday activities, enhance user experience and create an interconnected world in which we have come to rely on the Internet of Things. IoT has evolved from a buzzword, to a household term that has created an intersection of connected machines, data, and unlimited connectivity. 

When you begin to consider the tens of millions (or more) of "things" that allow us to maintain this interconnected network, you get a sense as to how vast the issue of securing the Internet of Things really is.

For example, Internet-based home automation such as video baby monitors, remote thermostat programming, home surveillance, connected lighting products (and the list goes on), are transforming how we manage our day-to-day lives. Remote management of these devices, through smartphones, online portals and the like, has extended to every home, car, business, building, and system in the world. While one can argue that the "IoT" is overused, misunderstood, a fad or perhaps a growth spurt in the evolution of technology; the increasing issue is the security of this phenomenon.

What we don’t hear about as often is how these vulnerable devices are the next frontier for cyber attackers. The average user of connected devices, whether deployed in your smart home, smart appliances, smart car or smart office, does not typically pay close attention to software updates or critical patching schedules or, as a matter-of-fact, quite understand how these devices are connected or are sharing data. How the human component contributes to an overall lack of security of the IoT is often underestimated.

The manufacturing of IoT devices are generally cost optimized, which is a polite way of saying that security is an afterthought.  Furthermore, in the residential space, IoT devices are plug-and-play and the average user is incapable or uninterested in security and may never apply an upgrade or security patch to the device.  So if an IoT device ships with an exploitable vulnerability, it will likely remain vulnerable throughout its lifecycle. 

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of end-users will never change default usernames and passwords.  The bad guys know this and gain access to these devices in droves using well-understood default credentials.


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