As the Internet of Things Worms Its Way into American Households, The 46 Billion Unit Question is, Who’s Minding the Store?
LOS ANGELES (Jan. 3, 2017) – We do like our gadgets. We just don’t like them turning on us.
And that, in the year ahead, could well be the source of significant – but preventable — distress for businesses and individuals, according to Adam Stern, CEO of leading Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider Infinitely Virtual. The defining trend for 2017, Stern says, will be the weaponization of the Internet of Things (IoT).
“2017 looms as a pivotal time for peril from the seemingly benign things we own and, in some cases, love,” says Adam Stern, Infinitely Virtual founder and CEO. “A smart TV is a wonderful thing. But there are now legions of unwitting accomplices out there. Think about that for a moment: you now need a firewall to protect your refrigerator. Or, even more diabolically, to shield unsuspecting users from that Samsung side-by-side. Is the local loop protecting others before an attack hits, or even capable of doing so?”
The eclectic mix of devices individuals and industry have labored to connect has grown massively. Juniper Research’s latest forecast estimates that the number of connected IoT devices, sensors and actuators will exceed 46 billion by 2021, a 200 percent increase from 2016. Per a new Parks Associates report, U.S. broadband households now own an average of eight connected computing, entertainment or mobile devices plus another two connected home devices. More than a third of consumers rely on a connected health device and more than 63 million subscribe to a video over-the-top or Internet-delivered video service. According to Gartner, more than half of major new business processes and systems will include an IoT component by 2020.
While Americans loaded up on consumer electronics goodies during the shopping derby that extended from Black Friday to Boxing Day, for users of Twitter, Airbnb and Reddit – among other major online destinations – October 21 was a different kind of black Friday. An enormous DNS attack took those sites down, in the latest of what continues to be an onslaught of hacks and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) events. When DNS went down, an entire world went down with it. In the immediate aftermath, too many missed the implications of this precedent-shattering occurrence.
Massive volumetric attacks are something new and particularly troubling, and no single firewall can stop them – especially when the attacks are emanating from connected (read: IoT-linked) devices, as they were in this case. Terminator-like, this insidious “rise of the machines” means that virtually every intelligent device, from a flat-screen TV to a garage-door opener to a rain controller can be commandeered for a DDoS attack. The IoT is suddenly a missile pointed at just about any business, Stern says.
“Regrettably, gee-whiz remains the conventional wisdom when it comes to the Internet of Things,” he notes. “Security ranked 7th on the Parks Associates Top 10 consumer IoT trends list, after blingy innovations like voice control, virtual and augmented reality, Internet video and car connectivity. And security is addressed in decidedly muted language: ‘The smart home industry will continue to develop new use cases for security peace of mind and energy management.’
“Right now, IoT devices can be directed against third parties and against themselves,” Stern says. “Is that what we want? Fact is, no one treats their home network as they would a corporate network, but that’s essentially what home networks have become. One recent article concluded, ‘The Internet of Things is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.’ Home automation is certainly poised to grow exponentially but you’ve got to wonder if that’s a threat or a promise.”
Stern says a 2017 forecast by cybersecurity provider Trend Micro, which anticipates an increased breadth and depth of attacks during the coming year, is closer to the mark. “The Internet of Things will play a larger role in targeted attacks in 2017, capitalizing on the growing acceptance of connected devices by exploiting unsecured systems,” Trend Micro reported.
“The situation is such that, according to Residential Systems, industry trade associations CEDIA and CTA are working on best practice guidelines while scouting around for anyone with expertise willing to participate in their research,” Stern says. “That’s both encouraging and pretty grim. Manufacturers need to identify and implement best practices protocols to make the IoT much more secure.
“While no one can predict the timing or the severity of the next attack, users won’t find themselves entirely defenseless in 2017,” he notes. “Look for volumetric attack protection technology to take center stage. This technology represents a new model for real-time DDoS mitigation through the automatic analysis of DDoS alerts and deployment of routing commands to ensure that immediate action is taken when legitimate DDoS attacks are detected – all without any human intervention. “
For more information, visit www.infinitelyvirtual.com.
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