By Ralph Goodman, Guest Author
Imagine a time when the transfer of data is fast and seamless, or a world where you control your devices without moving a finger. IoT, or the Internet of Things, looks to push that envelope of convenience and efficiency. IoT devices are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners seeking to make their homes automated and their day-to-day tasks easier.
Technology is pervading every facet of the home.
Now, however, IoT looks to change the face of home security and the way homeowners go about keeping themselves safe at home. This development raises some concerns about the state of home security and about whether or not IoT will increase home security or make it more vulnerable.
The Vulnerabilities of IoT
Most of today's IoT devices, be it a baby monitor or even a thermostat within your home, have the capability to connect to wireless networks or operate as stand-alone access points to a network. With so many interconnected items under one roof, the IoT industry needs to realize that while it's working to make life more secure and efficient—the industry is also giving hackers more access points into people's home networks. Homes are less secure.
Some people might think that there is no cause for concern. Yet gravitating towards smart home devices might leave you more vulnerable than safe. Reports abound of IoT-connected devices that have been hacked and taken over remotely (from baby monitors to cars). Still there are only minimal safeguards in place to try and minimize unwanted access to IoT networks.
Take a look at smart locks, for example. There are many homeowners who connect their smart locks to their surveillance cameras and other devices within their home so that they can operate each of these things remotely, conveniently, and simultaneously. This sounds amazing and futuristic, but these connections actually make it easier for hackers to gain access to your home and your personal details. In this day and age, physical valuables are less desirable and data is becoming the driving force behind many crimes.
Hackers are able to track passwords and door lock codes through motion sensors, and other types of sensors, that make home automation possible. No longer will deadbolt upgrades and anti-lock pick measures keep homeowners safe when a burglar just has to remotely hack their thermostat to gain network access, essentially leaving their home vulnerable to attack.
The smart home industry is growing aware of these IoT vulnerabilities, working to secure their products and make them feasible and safe. It is important that this is done before many more homeowners, business owners, and other interested parties start to heavily invest in IoT devices to automate their homes and offices.
In order to properly secure an IoT network (and thus secure consumers) every connection has to be locked down simultaneously. The first step is taking a look at the device that has IoT connection capabilities. It is important that the device has adequate security measures in place to keep it secure.
Many people do not realize that in order for an IoT-enabled device to function properly, it needs to remain powered at all times. This might seem inconsequential. but having a device that is constantly on, and that only has to go through a one-time authentication, leaves your device and the network extremely vulnerable. The IoT industry is working to make sure that the gateways—or connections— to these devices are being kept secure, and that they cycle through continuous authentication. Why? This will make unwarranted access to the device more difficult.
The second step is taking a hard look at where data is stored in IoT devices. Some of these devices have the ability to temporarily store data. However, most of these devices deposit the information that they receive and transmit in data repositories. Many of these repositories have minimal security, and they are at risk of being hacked by anyone interested in the troves of data that they store. However, thanks to shake-ups in the IoT industry (such as when Jeeps were hacked) a lot more attention and time are being devoted to making the IoT industry much more secure.
In addition to the two steps mentioned above, the IoT industry also needs to ensure that IoT devices—and the software they run on—get necessary security updates the instant they become available. Much in the same way that home security systems need refreshening from time to time,IoT security systems must be upgraded so they remain secure. As of now, the update issue is still a hitch that the IoT industry needs to overcome.
What Is The Verdict?
As it stands right now, IoT will make homes more vulnerable unless security issues are handled. There is little doubt that the Internet Of Things is a viable concept, playing a major role in the way data is shared and they way things connect with one another. However, at this exact moment, there are far too many kinks in the machine. Once these issues are addressed, however, smart devices are likely to offer a much more secure option for home security. Until technological security catches up, traditional means of home security offer a safer route.
Ralph Goodman is a professional locksmith and an expert writer on all things locks and security at the Lock Blog, a resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals to learn about keys, locks and safety.