The Dark Side Of The Internet Of Things

According to Gartner, there will be more connected devices in the world than humans by the year 2017. While the Internet of Things (IoT) can make our lives a lot easier, such widespread use also makes us a lot more vulnerable.

The FBI recently issued a warning to consumers that the many connected devices out there present more opportunities for cybercriminals.

Medical Devices Susceptible To Hacking

Researcher Marie Moe was shocked to discover that her pacemaker had wireless communication interfaces, which can be used for patients who need lots of follow-ups. The capability was deactivated in her particular case, but the fact that the potential is there and her doctors didn’t tell her about it did not sit well with her.

Moe has testified before the FDA and is working on developing a Hippocratic Oath for Connected Devices. Although there are no known cases where hackers have used a pacemaker to attack someone, researchers have already proven that it’s possible. In fact, research form Forrester predicts that ransomware for wearables and medical devices could start to pop up as soon as 2016.

While modern medical technology has a lot of safeguards, some of the equipment these devices connect to, such as MRIs, run outdated software. That means hospitals now have to start worrying about computer viruses in addition to the human variety.

Cars Also Vulnerable

Such vulnerabilities also exist in cars. Researchers have shown that hacking into cars and taking control of them is now a possibility, and carmakers have to be proactive about looking for vulnerabilities and closing them.

GM has launched a bug bounty program to help patch up problems, and other carmakers are taking a similar approach to ensure that hackers cannot compromise vehicles. Legislation has been passed to help the car industry share intelligence about threats and act more quickly when vulnerabilities come to light.

The IoT might be a bit of a double-edged sword, and it’s important to be aware that these vulnerabilities exist. Overall, however, the proliferation of connected devices is going to bring more benefits than risks for consumers.