As IoT grows in the business world, where does that leave home users?
Popularity and awareness of the Internet of Things (IoT) is rising exponentially. Industry icon, Intel, projects two hundred billion IoT devices will be in use by 2020(1). Conversely, Gartner predicts only twenty billion(2). Though a wide range of predictions can be found online, we feel confident claiming that smart devices are going to continue to be a major part of our lives, with their role expanding at an extremely fast rate. Assuming Intel’s prediction is correct, two hundred billion divided by the world’s population shows us that each person on the Earth is going to use roughly 26 smart devices by 2020 in their daily life(3). This leads to something that all users need to consider - enterprise level Identity and Access Management (IAM) architecture.
What’s the security issue with IoT?
Industry experts warn that IoT security breaches provide attackers opportunities to control devices remotely and use them as an entry point to networks. Some devices do not use encryption and have weak default passwords which allow attackers to perform malicious firmware updates and control the device remotely(4). Remotely controlled IoT devices can provide all necessary information to man-in-the-middle(5) attackers who will be able to disable or abuse the security systems put in place which protect our home or personal information. IoT expert, Bill Montgomery, provides ten different ‘real life’ experiences across industries that have been hacked in the recent past. Each attack has one important common element - hackers used IoT devices as an entry point to networks in hospitals, governments, schools, utility companies and personal homes(6).
How do you prevent malicious access?
Traditionally, security infrastructure is built at the access point where humans interact with devices. IoT is a new way of communication, through which machines are communicating with other machines, applications or services. This extension of traditional security infrastructure presents a new set of challenges. As devices have not been part of traditional IAM systems, IoT requires defined IAM architecture. IAM leaders, such as Oracle, Forgerock or Salesforce, currently offer solutions to their enterprise level clients where they can manage all connected devices as a new identity and apply policy to those users accessing that data. Now, a similar approach needs to be implemented for home users.
How can consumers protect their network?
Previously, home users only had to worry about securing their individual networks. Now, they need to secure all of their individual IoT devices. The FBI recommends consumers protect their network and identity by changing default passwords, isolating IoTs on their own protected network and disabling Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) on routers(7); however, that is still not enough. Unfortunately, IoT devices still do not offer additional security, which makes for a weak system. Implementing enterprise level IAM solutions are obviously going to be very complicated and expensive for home users. Industry experts will need to find ways to make it affordable and easy to use for home users, giving them the additional layers of security essential for home networks of the future.
Roy Bahian is a Systems Engineer at Hub City Media, with a focus in implementing IAM solutions. In his spare time, he is a volunteer actor and enjoys the performing arts, photography and chess.
(1) Dukes, Elizabeth. "200 Billion Smart Devices in the Workplace: Are You Ready?" 200 Billion Smart Devices in the Workplace: Are You Ready? N.p., 27 June 2016. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.
(2) Meulen, Rob Van Der. "Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected "Things" Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent From 2016" Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected "Things" Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent From 2016 N.p., 07 Feb 2017. Web. 07 Feb 2017.
(3) By Signing In, You Agree to Our Terms of Service. "A Guide to the Internet of Things Infographic." A Guide to the Internet of Things Infographic (n.d.): n. pag. Intel. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.
(4) Osborne, Charlie. "Vulnerable Smart Home IoT Sockets Let Hackers Access Your Email Account." ZDNet. Zero Day, 18 Aug. 2016. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.
(5) Rouse, Margaret. "Man-In-The-Middle Attack." TechTarget. N.p., Dec. 2015. Web. July 2017. <http://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/man-in-the-middle-attack-MitM>.
(6) Montgomery, Bill. "The 10 Most Terrifying IoT Security Breaches You Aren't Aware of (so Far)." Linked In. N.p., 13 Sept. 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.
(7) United States of America. Federal Bureau of Investigation. IC3. Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | Internet of Things Poses Opportunities for Cyber Crime. N.p., 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 04 Nov. 2016.