The Fraud Examiner

The Internet of Vulnerable Things
 

While most people understand the importance of security when using personal computers and smartphones, far fewer recognize the perils posed by seemingly innocuous WiFi-enabled coffee makers, networked thermostats, and other smart products from the rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT).

The Internet of Things is the emerging environment of everyday objects that use embedded sensors to collect and transmit data through the Internet. IoT technology can be used to solve problems, optimize existing technology, and allow more seamless and personalized user experiences. Examples of useful IoT applications include wearable fitness devices (e.g., Fitbit), home-automation products (e.g., Nest) and smart parking systems. Unfortunately, the development of IoT technology tends to focus on innovative design rather than privacy or security. IoT devices commonly connect to networks using inadequate security and can be impractical to update when vulnerabilities are found.

This is a concern because as the number of potentially vulnerable smart products increases so do the opportunities for fraudsters seeking alternate ways into otherwise secure networks. Furthermore, IoT devices often record huge volumes of sensitive data and personal information that must be protected from misuse and cyber criminals.


Internet of Everything

At this month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, many of the world’s leading technology companies debuted their latest IoT gadgets, ranging from a $5,000 smart refrigerator to a Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test. According to a forecast by Gartner, the IoT will include more than 25 billion devices by the year 2020 — potentially five times more than the estimated 5 billion currently in use. Correspondingly, the CEO of electronics giant Samsung has claimed that every single one of their products will connect to the Internet by 2020, " whether it is an air purifier or an oven." The outlook is for a world where almost anything has the potential to be connected.

The IoT even has its own search engine, Shodan, which allows users to search for Internet-connected devices. The service can be used as a marketing research tool to determine how and where IoT products are being used, and to identify any associated network vulnerabilities. However, many have accused Shodan of being a tool for hackers by simplifying the process of locating susceptible entry points to networks that host such things as security cameras, routers and traffic lights.



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