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IoT: The Internet of Vulnerable Things

Internet of Things (IoT) devices present us with a promise. They promise that our lives will become more convenient when we connect our home assistants, Smart TVs, and security devices to the Internet. For many people, this ends up being true. IoT devices can harness the Internet to save you time and summon powerful resources at the sound of your voice.

However, that promise comes with a caveat.

IoT Interconnectedness, For Better or For Worse

Computers and mobile devices already experience regular security breaches thanks to increasingly savvy hackers, the shortcomings of passwords, and vulnerable security systems. Comparatively, however, IoT devices are even more vulnerable.

The main reason that this issue is more pronounced with IoT devices is that the systems running them are simpler than those of our computers and smartphones. This simplicity makes them adept at handling their primary tasks, but it makes it difficult to implement complex (and by extension, effective) security measures for those devices.

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As a result, those devices are hard to update. Some of them may not have the space to get software updates that would make them more secure. In fact, since engineers used to believe that IoT devices would not be targets for hackers, certain devices may not even have a mechanism to get security updates.

Plus, the select few IoT devices that do have improved security rely on passwords, and even the best password is a minor roadblock for a determined hacker. Given that 59 percent of people use the same password for multiple sites, there’s a good chance that the password someone uses for an IoT device will be the same one that they use for a bank account, for example.

The ramifications of this can’t be overstated. A hacker could easily co-opt an IoT device password to hack into a bank account. But worse yet, someone’s pacemaker could be turned off remotely, or a home security system could be disabled. Additionally, IoT devices can be – and have been – hacked and used to spread malware.

Connectedness and Compromise

There’s no need to set fire to your Smart TV upon reading this, but it is important to assess what role you want IoT devices to play in your life. When purchasing an IoT device, consider whether the convenience is worth the security trade-off, and remember that if it’s password protected, it’s going to be vulnerable.

However, a viable solution for IoT device security does exist in the form of biometrics. The prospect of a hacker getting into your home by guessing a password is terrifying, but an iris scan will ensure that you are the only one who can unlock your front door. By eliminating the need for passwords, biometrics can ensure that only an authorized user will access the IoT devices. In other words, with biometrics, we can embrace IoT without fear.

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