By 2020, experts estimate there will be 15-20 billion devices connected to the Internet. With chips getting smaller and cheaper to produce and purchase, it’s not entirely inconceivable to think this will truly be the case. Since various gadgets and devices getting “smarter,” it seems like any household item could become connectable to the Internet nowadays, even if there isn’t a justifiable reason. While manufacturers and vendors claim that smart technology and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are beneficial and convenient for consumers, it’s the technology’s developers that stand to benefit the most from these products.

A smart/IoT product developer for example, can accumulate data from their devices for a variety of reasons like determining how often breakages and malfunctions occur, attaining demographic data on their consumers, and using this info to advertise more accordingly to boost their sales. We’ve recently seen how government entities are capable of using smart devices to conduct widespread surveillance on everyday people, most of whom don’t even know this is all happening (especially if their devices have a 5G connection that doesn’t require syncing to a WiFi network). Consumers are also very trend-oriented, wanting to purchase the latest products, and stockpile on them as they become more abundant without having any regard for the security risks involved.

Many smart IoT devices also contain significant cybersecurity flaws. Many of these shortcomings are largely happening because of two reasons. The first is because tech industry developers seem focused on their ability to connect devices and accessories to the Internet without considering if it’s really necessary. The second is the technology industry seems more focused on prioritizing production rates and profitability than cybersecurity.

Nonetheless, the ultimate takeaway from IoT devices from a corporate perspective appears to be data collection.

Many people don’t realize how easy it would be for a hacker to exploit these cybersecurity vulnerabilities of IoT devices. If the amount of attention paid to IoT security continues, it’s not inconceivable for a hacker to wreak havoc on IoT devices like pacemakers or even entire industrial facilities that rely on their Internet connections to implement their daily operations.

In a recent survey that polled hundreds of IT security professionals, the results showed the vast majority of the participants aren’t confident with the present and future state of IoT security. Approximately 96 percent of those surveyed expect to see a spike in IoT security breaches in 2017. In addition, 96 and 93 percent of participants from large and small companies respectively expect to see significant increases in security risks caused by using IoT devices moving forward, while 51 percent don’t feel prepared for cybersecurity attacks aiming to abuse, exploit, or maliciously use insecure IoT devices.

IOT security is clearly a glaring concern among professionals in the IT and tech industry. While these vulnerabilities are identifiable, hopes are high it won’t take a cataclysmic breach for tech companies to improve their cybersecurity standards.

Associate Editor, Wireless Design & Development