Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Internet of Things, Risks and Security

Internet of things and the interconnectedness of devices has inherent drawbacks.  Initially, the convenience of using interconnected devices overcomes the awareness of the lack of control over the information that is gathered about their use.  The convenience and allure of the novelty of Internet of Things catch everyone’s whim to acquire the latest. But unfortunately, there are risks that must be encountered and there are ever present liabilities.  The Internet of Things has been identified by U.S. national intelligence community as a threat to data privacy, data reliability, and services we all rely on.[1]  With the advent of digital toys for children, hackers can seek information on the adolescent users.
The news is replete with stories of security issues and breach of data and cyber intrusions.  At the cornerstone of these developments is the reality that software and security and their interplay will be woven into our lives.  Yet what seems overlooked is the evident role of software keeping up with the risks.  These risks are beyond identity theft, bank hacking, and cyber hacking for confidential information. There is a risk of physical threat that could affect air traffic control towers, nuclear power plants, water treatment, power grids in major cities, and not to mention law enforcement communications.
The concern shared on this post has global dimensions.  Potential attacks are seeking to infiltrate major industrial control systems to harness the ability to shut down business and administrative functions.  Such a cyber incident, according to Lloyd’s of London, is tantamount to a blackout causing total economic disruption.  A similarly described incident was reported to have occurred in the Ukraine on or about mid-December 2015 affecting it energy grid.[2]  The infecting malware is suspected to have targeted Ukraine’s industrial control system.  Fortunately, for them, they had an alternative means of restoring because it was not dependent on Internet connection and they were able to utilize redundant means of using manual power switches.
[1] James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, spoke on threat assessment before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in February 2016.
[2] On March 1, 2016, the New York Times.  The Department of Homeland Security (DOHS) issued an alert noting the malware.

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