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What Will the Internet of Things Mean for Cybersecurity?

Tech security cannot be separated from the larger concern of cybersecurity. PHOTO/ Pixabay

By Katlyn Lee

Published: May 8th, 2019

Figures released show that by 2023, cybercriminals will steal a total of 33 billion records each year. Cyber-crime is not only increasing in numbers but also in expenses, with sobering information showing that the cost of data breaches has risen by $3.86 million and each individual breach incurs an average cost of $148 dollars. The question of tech security cannot, therefore, be separated from the larger hulking concern of cybersecurity. It is partly due to these pressures to revamp and reinforce cybersecurity, especially as innovations like machine learning are being put into play.

But even as machine learning is heralded as a revolutionary approach to cybersecurity, we should also recognize the leap in technology that is the Internet of Things (IoT). Some may argue that the IoT, in fact, may offer a lasting solution to cybersecurity, while others believe it will only make things worse.

The Internet of Things and Cybersecurity

There have already been a number of concerns arising from IoT with weaknesses in the system making it easier to breach. Equipping all technological gadgets from refrigerators to cookers with a working internet connection seems like a brilliant idea (and it is), but it raises concerns when considering how secure this connection can be and what it could mean for the people linked to these various gadgets. The question becomes how to mitigate risks as opposed to overhauling the entire concept of cross-linked connectivity. However, while there are multiple avenues we can opt for to mitigate the risks, such as the use of VPN to protect our security, deep learning or the use of hardware authentication, we will need to first understand what the pitfalls are associated with IoT so we can respond using appropriate measures.

The Rise of Trojans

It would be a mistake to approach security solutions for IoT the same way we approach traditional internet security because the landscape is significantly different. Most of us are familiar with malicious viruses and how they attack our computers by corrupting our files. However, the significance of viruses changes completely from an IoT perspective. One of the most dangerous of these viruses is a recently discovered form of a Trojan. The virus is equipped with the ability to disable IoT devices and make them virtually self-destruct by overwriting critical parts of their firmware and rendering them useless. To add to this, it is still not clear to researchers how the virus is spread in spite of the fact that there are approximately 500,000 infected devices.

The Verdict

Trojans are not the only threat to cybersecurity in the internet of things. However, it is an illustration of just how deep the pitfalls are when implementing IoT. We must recognize that IoT is surely the technology of the future and rather than abandoning it, we must move on to ask how we can address the issues as they crop up. There are a number of suggestions that have been put across by experts on how to deal with security threats. The first and most important step is doubtlessly to attempt a comprehensive understanding of the threat landscape. This will allow us to design dedicated solutions to the threats as they arise.

IoT, like all revolutionary technologies, has its drawbacks but to do as some suggest and write it off for good is both nearsighted and premature. While it is true that it does pose a great security threat, it is not true that this issue cannot be addressed and solved by the great technological minds of our century.

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