IoT: Connected Devices are the Backbone to Smart Homes & Smart Cities

devices

From a network of connected computers to a network with billions of connected endpoint devices, the internet is enabling inter-connectivity for a rapidly expanding array of things across all industries. It is not only just our desktop computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets that are connected to the internet anymore. The internet permeates our everyday lives and increasingly, a clear majority of products and devices are being designed and developed to be connected online.

This increasing connectivity of physical, digital, and human systems has become known as the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT products and services are growing significantly and range from consumer wearables (Fitbit, Apple watch) to home appliances (smart fridges, washers, vacuums, TVs), smart cars (OnStar service, driverless cars, automatic braking systems), smart cities (intelligent transport, safety and security) and applications across agriculture (crop and environmental monitoring), healthcare (human implants), oil/gas, mining, manufacturing, utilities and enterprise (POS terminals).

While the technology and the various products and devices offer many benefits in terms of efficiency, time and energy savings and represent huge social and economic opportunities and benefits, this connectivity also comes with a deluge of risks. The security risks and challenges are ever-growing along with the explosion in the number of devices becoming internet connected.

According to the IoT Security Foundation:

“The economic impact of IoT will be measured in $trillions. The number of connected devices will be measured in billions and the resultant benefits of a connected society are significant, disruptive and transformational.”

The expansion of IoT devices is expected to grow beyond 50 billion devices in the next decade and it is forecast that there will be 13 internet connected and networked devices per North American by 2020 (Cisco annual visual networking index forecast).  This is compared to just eight last year, which means that consumers will be adopting many more connected gadgets beyond just smartphones; Think smart TVs, Amazon Echo and Amazon Key, Google Home, and smart appliances.

Globally, there will be four networked devices and connections per person by 2021. The exponential growth in the adoption of connected devices can be seen in the below Statistica graph, which projects the number of installed connected devices to be over 75 billion in 2025.

statistic_id471264_internet-of-things---number-of-connected-devices-worldwide-2015-2025

As IoT technologies become more essential for keeping pace with fast changing markets, business and technology leaders must be vigilant in security practices to help keep their companies safe. The scale of interconnected IoT devices along with the data they generate dramatically increases the complexity of information security and vulnerabilities in IoT are being exploited with malicious intent every day.

IoT security should be a top concern for individuals, business executives and government entities alike.
In homes, webcams, home security systems and connected thermostats make life easier for homeowners but they come with certain risks. Household devices remotely controlled through the internet could allow your home to be burgled or you to be spied on if unsecured.

Due to the connected nature of IoT based access control systems it is imperative that technology providers, system adopters and users work together to ensure security is fit-for-purpose and evolves, because what is considered secure today may not be safe tomorrow.

The vast volumes of data generated every second by these devices grows endlessly and data is the new gold mine that attracts malicious attention from data thieves. The accessed data of individuals, vehicles, flying objects and other valuable devices can enable physical tracking of users and use for other ill intended means. Intentional or unintentional data transfer, processing or security of data transmissions could represent whole system shutdowns.

Cybersecurity dangers include data theft, system endangerment, and tampering and spoofing. As there are multiple points of entry in such a large network of devices, when the security of connected devices is at stake a security event may threaten the entire network.

In addition to the dramatic changes in the design and development of applications, products and services for homes and businesses, there is an increasing consideration of how metropolitan cities can be planned to deal with challenges such as overpopulation, waste management, massive energy consumption and pollution.

Urban planners are now developing smart cities, which significantly rely on IoT technologies. The technology can be applied in a great variety of environments ranging from energy saving systems, traffic monitoring, connected vehicles, building management and access control to smart-home devices.

The IoT architecture is allowing cities to adopt smarter access control systems and connecting them to a centralized network to track and manage populations, vehicles and buildings, improve energy and water supply, transport and access control, public health and safety management.

The ambition of building and modernizing cities with connected infrastructures is to provide better public services, seamless high-speed communication and a better-quality living environment.
However, the concentration of access control operation center’s activities under specific services unavoidably centralizes the information security risk in one specific virtual location. In case of a cyberattack targeted against such a coordination access control center, city system disruptions could be catastrophic and chaotic.

Network security aspects will need to be secured with a focus on resilience to ensure that in case of security incidents, the communication interruption between the connected devices and coordination center will be minimal and optimal service will be restored in the least time.

In this increasingly interconnected world, what is evident is the need to focus on how best to apply and adopt new technologies with protection of privacy and security front of mind for the safety of individuals, businesses, and cities.

Protecting your organization against IoT security breaches can be simple and cost-effective. For more information on IoT security and endpoint protection, contact us at Ascension Global Technology.

 

Sources and further reading:

For more information on Iot Security, the IoT Security Foundation provides a list of resources.

September 25, 2017 – The Smart Cities Internet of Access Control, opportunities and cybersecurity challenges

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CISCO Complete Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast

Mirror article “How hackers could use your ‘smart home’ devices to break into your home and spy on your kids”

 

 

 

 

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