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IoT Crime Report: Hacking

A technology briefing from Circuit Insight discusses security concerns about IoT at length. By 2020, an estimated 20.8 billion “things” will be online: this includes devices from dishwashers to watches, baby monitors to power grids, pet collar to cars. Connectivity bolsters the economy. McKinsey & Company’s Global Institute forecasts annual economic benefits of $3.9 to $11.1 trillion by 2025.

Where there’s opportunity to do business, there’s opportunity to do crime. Identity theft and fraud have long been on the consumer and law enforcement radar. The FBI and consumer protection agencies urge consumers to change the default passwords on every network-connected device. This not only protects personal information, it prevents hackers from installing malicious software and infecting entire networks of devices. Security cameras in particular are a popular entry point for hackers.

Other security recommendations include:

  • Disable UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) on routers to prevent hackers from establishing a network.
  • Update devices whenever security patches are made available to protect your devices from known vulnerabilities.
  • Educate yourself about your options so you can choose products from companies with a solid security reputation, and avoid purchasing devices for which connectivity is more of a drawback than a feature. For example, do you need a WiFi-enabled blender?
  • If you do purchase that WiFi-enabled blender or anything else, change the settings so that it only connects to your secure home network instead of automatically connecting to any available WiFi signal.
  • Pay attention to product recalls and follow manufacturer instructions. If your vehicle is recalled, take it in to the dealer for a security patch.
  • Use strong passwords instead of the default password or something that is easy to guess. The default password is like having no front door. A common password like “password123” is like having a screen door.

Fraud and identity theft cause serious headaches, but researchers worry about potential violent crimes. White hats from a number of universities found ways to hack into personal cars, school buses and commercial trucks in order to remote control the vehicles. Using these vulnerabilities, hackers could create a ransom situation or hijack loads of hazardous materials. As such, the security industry should see significant growth over the next several years.

Meanwhile, manufacturers need to prioritize security instead of hastily releasing hackable devices to the market. Josh Corman of I Am The Calvary advises “safer design to reduce attack points, third-party testing, internal monitoring systems, segmented architecture to limit the damage from any successful penetration, and the same internet-enabled security software updates that PCs now receive.”

To listen to the podcast or read the transcript, go to Circuit Insight.