The technology evolution is happening at rapid speed, which is making it hard to keep track of advancements in cyber-security. Through this blog I will try to argue why a ‘tortoise’ approach could be crucial in order to secure peoples’ private information and prevent a hacker’s utopia.

How will IoT affect the market and society?

At the age of 10 I bought my first mobile phone. Little did I know what the future of technology had in store for my generation.

In the year I was born (1994) Rich Gold asked ‘How smart does your bed have to be, before you are afraid to go to sleep at night?’. He predicted, in his own questioning way, that smart homes would become critical to the way we live our lives. Gold used old science fiction novels to showcase his concerns for the future. Ironically, in 1994 most people saw Rich Gold’s article as the real science fiction! Now, 13 years after his death, it seems his ideas are becoming a reality.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a collection of the greatest modern advancements in IT; it is the physical world clashing together with the web. An example of this could be the new Amazon ‘Smart Buttons’ called the Dash Button Introducing Amazon Dash Button: Place it. Press it. Get it. – YouTube. Smart Buttons are Wifi enabled buttons that are capable of reordering grocery and more; let’s say you are out of milk – press the button and a brand new bottle of milk will arrive the next day! Amazon is even providing the device with the ability to be so smart that it notices by itself when you are low on supplies, and re-orders for you.  Another – at Defcon a couple of years ago, a hacker showed how he could break into a car system to deploy airbags without a crash, and if the car had parking assistance collision avoidance, the hacker could accomplish full control of the steering wheel and disable the breaks. A study on agile developers Internet of Things survey: How agile developers view the IoT by HP presented that the biggest market opportunity of the IoT is believed to be connected automobiles/driver assistance technology.

Convenience for the consumer must be the key word here, and in most cases of the IoT – but convenience shouldn’t be the only thing that matters.

Are you ready for the security issues?

Are we ready for this revolution that is supposed to make everything from automobiles to street lights ‘smart’? Well we better be, because it is already happening. Now, in 2015 there are already about 4billion smart devices in the world and a Gartner report estimates a staggering 25billion smart devices will be available by 2020. This underlines the speed in which the market is moving, opening an ocean of possibilities for businesses – and consumers – to indulge in.

Unfortunately this could be the hare and tortoise story all over – the faster the market evolves, the quicker new, smart technology businesses will arise. This is potentially a great thing, however the alarming pace manufacturers will need to deliver to keep or grow market share, combined with our increased dependence on intelligent connected devices unfortunately means larger security risks. And it’s not certain that we are prepared for these.  In fact, a survey by HP shows that 70% of IoT devices are vulnerable to security problems. Have in mind that these devices include healthcare systems, smart cars, door locks and infrastructure – and they contain all of your private information.

To me, impatience is one of the key words of my generation…We don’t need it tomorrow, we need it now!  Because of this, pressure is being put on developers to keep up. However, as Larry Downes (writer of Laws of Disruption) puts it, “technology changes exponentially, but social, economic, and legal systems change incrementally.” Or, in other words, personal data is moving at a faster speed than the laws that are in place to control and protect it.

Another factor that affects my generation is the issue of naivety; we have no issue giving applications access to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles… We’re in the mind set of “As long as it doesn’t post anything on my wall without my notice, I’m fine.” But, what we don’t realise is that now an organisation has all of this personal information about us. In the best case scenario it is used for advertisement targeted at us, but the worst case is scary; what could people really do with your information? I’ll tell you: they can create fake profiles, follow where you are at all times, find it easier to hack your email/ smart device/ bank account and a big deal more! If you’re sitting back thinking “this is not going to happen to me,” think again.

If the IoT market will be one of the fastest growing, shouldn’t the related security advances follow suit? Mike Armistead from HP comments that: “With the continued adoption of connected devices, it is more important than ever to build security into these products from the beginning to disrupt the adversary and avoid exposing consumers to serious threats.”

Over 90% of tested devices in a recent IoT research study HP News – HP Study Reveals 70 Percent of Internet of Things Devices Vulnerable to Attack collected at least one piece of personal information through the product itself, the cloud or its mobile application. In order to fully secure an IoT product, security testing has become more important than ever and the ability to identify software weaknesses before they hit the market is crucial. Developers and testers must stay creative but also adapt to the security needs of the IoT. It is now paramount that your software or system can’t be breached so that hackers can’t connect with your numerous smart devices and create a so called domino-effect.

As Spiderman’s uncle once said in the Marvel comics: “with great power comes great responsibility.” in my opinion companies should focus their energy on being thorough and looking for long term security solutions. The product should only be introduced to the market when it’s tested, and ready. Releasing it before carrying out the necessary checks could end up harming your businesses reputation and revenue.

This should all be food for thought and, it is my belief that we should use our power to learn all about the water before jumping head first into it.


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Posted in: Agile, Apps, Cloud, Developers, Internet of Things, IT strategy, Marketing, mobile applications, Quality Assurance, Security, Smart, Social media      
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