Top security challenges that will impact the Internet of Things

06 - February 2020

Over the past two years, the Internet of Things has seen a dramatic rise across the board. IoT devices have become increasingly ubiquitous in both the home and in businesses, with early adopters now giving way to the majority. Although it is important to remember that the IoT network is wider than the devices it supports, smart devices give us a good bellwether of the rise of IoT. Smart speaker ownership grew by 78% in 2018, with 1 in 4 Americans now owning one.
However, the increased proliferation of connected devices has meant that the challenges facing start-ups and IoT manufacturers in 2020 have evolved, with the sector increasingly facing serious threats from cybercrime. Hackers not only pose a risk to the IoT network itself; weak or faulty networks now mean our entire cyber-identities could be compromised.
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The threats posed to IoT became so vivid in 2019 that the FBI released an official statement after Black Friday warning consumers about the potential risks that their new purchase might pose. This trend is only likely to grow; cybersecurity will increasingly become one of the most salient issues for IoT manufacturers and consumers.
If the past two years saw IoT grow up, 2020 must be the year it starts looking after itself. Our homes currently have more access points than ever before – wireless lights, thermostats, home security sensors, intelligent streetlights, smart meters, and many more. These millions of sensors and devices present a great opportunity for hackers, and a great vulnerability for us all. Therefore, providing a holistic, decentralised cybersecurity solution that is both secure and practical will be essential. 2020 must be the year that smart devices get smarter about cybersecurity.
The IoT market is expanding at a rapid rate. Gartner predicts that there will be 5.8 billion IoT endpoints by 2020, a 21% increase from 2019. While these systems are making better lives possible, they are also producing new challenges that the IoT industry must meet. Put simply, the more devices there are in existence, the greater risk there is to security.
Each node in an IoT network represents a potential ‘opening’ for a hacker. Therefore, an IoT’s network is only as strong as its weakest link. Increasingly, we are seeing cheaper IoT devices that do not have enough cybersecurity to keep potential hackers out.
2020 will also see the advent of widespread 5G usage. Consequently, even more data will be collected, stored and shared across devices and platforms. All of this data – our personal photos, videos and messages – will all be up for grabs in a cyberattack. The more centralised our data, the easier it is for hackers to access. It is therefore essential that now, more than ever, IoT networks are secure.
All of this comes at a time when the number of cybersecurity experts is falling. For IoT to continue to expand in 2020, it is essential that we find fully automated solutions that do not rely on security operation centers (SOC).
SOCs use AI to monitor and detect malicious activity on IoT networks. However, whilst AI is able to do much of the grunt work, a human eye is still used to oversee the work. As large companies expand, thus taking more of the available resources and cybersecurity experts, smaller IoT companies are unable to survive.
Faced with this dilemma, many tend to give up. In order to prevent this occurring further in 2020, cybersecurity companies must find SOC-less solutions.
Therefore, in order for IoT to start looking after itself in 2020, we must develop solutions that understand what it is to be an IoT user and manufacturer. Any solution provider must understand that practicality is king and demonstrate software that is designed with an IoT user’s pain points in mind.
While the IoT industry saw enormous growth in 2019, it also faced growing threats. For the IoT sector, 2020 will ultimately be defined by how these threats were met and dealt with.

Itsik Harpaz is chief executive officer at Essence-Sigamdots

As featured in Information Management