The Internet of Things could be the next big thing in tech: A world of connected devices, from thermostats, refrigerators to enterprise tools like fleets of cars and data center switches.
But it could also turning into a real headache for security folks.
“The more data there is, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong,” says Christopher Budd, a global threat communications manager at Trend Micro. Budd says a world of unsecured connected devices “scares the living crap out of me.”
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“The kind of data we’re talking about is a lot scarier and a lot more meaningful than the information that has typically been stored on a PC five or 10 years ago,” he says. “As the devices connected to the Internet get closer to the physical person, the information they collect becomes more personal.” And so therefore the loss or illicit use of that data is that much more personal.
Think about it: Image a world of connected location devices that track where a person is. An unsecure connection of that device could make location data readily available for anyone to see. Image robbers checking online to see when their victim isn’t home. Or worse, an attacker being able to pinpoint the location of their victim to track them down.
On the business side, it could be just as bad. Devices can report a plethora of data out into the web. That’s a breeding ground for hackers to launch “beachhead” attacks to penetrate corporate firewalls and carry out even more sophisticated attacks.
Imagine an organization has dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of sensors out in the field all reporting back to a central repository. How easy could it be for a hacker to disguise a malware, virus or other threat into that stream of data and creep behind a corporate firewall? Even if there are strong network protections, what if a worker brings an infected FitBit into the office and plugs it into their work desktop? “It’s pretty scary to extrapolate all the things that we can expect,” says Budd.