Cyber attack and effects on the Internet of Things (IoT)

Subject: Technology
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Technology is a support to humanity on how individuals interact with devices and as such, the implications of such devices on the convenience of life. Particularly, Internet of things is a concept first becoming common with different explanations put across to define the concept. From a simple definition, internet of things (IoT) entails the connecting of devices to the internet (Kumar & Patel, 2014). It mainly encompasses how the Internet of computing devices enables interconnectedness and as such, allowing the devices to send or receive data. In this sense, the concept mostly entails having the devices connected to the internet and in the real sense, allowing for the interaction with humans (Wortmann & Flüchter, 2015). However, in light of this advancement, there are the concerns about security and privacy over the internet and as such, it is being argued that risks like cyber-attack are a potential threat to the Internet of Things. A cyber-attack as a potential security threat to the Internet of Things concerns the deliberate action of exploiting computer systems, as well as the technology-dependent enterprises. On the other hand, the action entails the use of malicious software or core in altering the computer logic, code or data and as such, results in the compromising of data, identity and information theft (Pan et al., 2017). Therefore, the prospects of cyber-attack is a negative implication to the internet of things owing to the security and privacy compromise the action puts on the devices connected to the internet. For this case, the exploration confirms that cyber-attacks against Internet of Things disrupts daily operations, infringe on privacy and freedom and worse still, can lead to mass economic loss.

Privacy issue or concern is the major and biggest challenge to the Internet of Things, and as such, with the possibility of cyber –attacks, the safety of the devices may be compromised when connected to the internet (Sicari, Rizzardi, Grieco & Coen-Porisini, 2015). The security threat stems from the fact that the IoT systems and devices collect a lot of personal data. For instance, the smart meter may record when the owner of the house arrives at home and even the electronics that one uses when home. In return, the information is being shared with the apparent devices within the house and connected with the company databases (Kumar & Patel, 2014). In this case, the attack on the system can be broad-range, not only within the confines of personal space but also compromising the place where one works. Although hackers have not put much of their attention on the IoT, there can be financial and other benefits that will lead the cyber criminals into hacking into the systems like smart homes. Despite the nature of the IOT making it not vulnerable to cyber-attacks, and people currently being guaranteed about their safety and security incentives as concerning these systems, the IoT could be the next and big target for hacking (Wortmann & Flüchter, 2015).

One of the likely effects of cyber-attacks on the internet of things is that it affects the average day operations and the critical day-to-day tasks that one performs (Pan et al., 2017). In this sense, any potential threat presents the possibility of preventing one from doing simple tasks like uploading files, pictures and work because the site may have been compromised. For instance, the attack may also bring about distress when performing normal operations like trying to withdraw money from the ATM because the site has been compromised and as such, preventing one from accessing services. The disruptions brought about the attack on the communication systems and other important services like electricity can make life inconvenience ().  In this sense, IoT has been connected to the personal space and program of an individual, and in the event of any inconvenience, major challenges are brought about as concerning preventing one from doing daily chores.  Nonetheless, when it boils down to the feelings of being inconvenienced, the individuals may be exposed to vulnerability and fear. Such types of attacks on IoT are a major impediment towards the adoption of the technology because it brings about the fear that people are being exposed to risk and privacy issues or concerns regarding their privacy (Kumar & Patel, 2014).

Apart from the cyber-attacks on IoT leading to inconvenience on the individuals, a significant challenge is the infringement on the privacy of the individuals. Although IoT is still in the development and prototype phase, there is more concern that with the possibility to connect the home appliances to the internet, people are being exposed to more threats of privacy infringement (Kumar & Patel, 2014). The implication is that humanity has evolved to embrace an excellent array of technologies whereby the essence of convenience has now supposed the necessity for respecting one’s privacy. In this sense, people have become more glued to their devices, and as such, the devices are controlling their lives and taking personal space whereby life and schedules are integrated into these elements or devices. Accordingly, Abomhara and Køien (2014) assert that some of the technological advancements like the internet-connected devices have changed things and life around the around owing to the luxury they bring. On the other hand, the comfort comes at the expense of costs; the joy and luxury from the gadgets have been extended to infringing the individual freedom and privacy. Such is the negative implication of the cyber-attacks on the internet of things; breaching privacy and freedom. The implications that there hackers have the possibility of using channels that allow them the accessibility of the devices to monitor homes and movement from a distance. Accordingly, Kumar and Patel (2014) confirm that through the home appliances, the attackers are capable of watching the movement of a person, preparing for work, sleep or any other activity. Besides, that despite some people being tech savvy, some of the devices are fitted with default firmware passwords not possible to change (Abomhara and Køien, 2014). Through this, the internet-enabled device provides the loopholes for watching and monitoring a person’s movements and activities. In this sense, it leads to infringement of freedom and privacy.

Attacks on IoT have been argued from the perspective of the economic losses they leave on the society. More so, the attacks can lead to profound catastrophic risks, especially when the attack leads to mass economic loss or damage. The examples of 9/11 and Pearl Harbour attacks are some of the catastrophes that can result from such attacks, especially when they are of greater magnitude (CSIS, 2017). The economic losses to the society like the aftershocks, when the attacks are financially motivated, can be overreaching, notwithstanding the money that will be spent on the homeland security in fighting these types of attacks. On the other hand, indirect costs are also incurred when the attacks bring about significant impediments to the economic activities within the community, state or country. The Northeast blackout has been outlined as one of the practical examples of what may happen when massive attacks are targeted at IoTs. Specifically, the outage led to a significant economic loss of around $6 billion due to the reduction in economic production and was attributed to around 11 deaths (CSIS, 2017). Therefore, there is the possibility that proper and well-planned IoT, especially on the systems that are controlling large networks can lead to possible losses like the Northeast blackout. For example, if the attackers can get into the home systems and tamper with the air conditioning systems in homes such that they are set to maximum power in a high usage day, then blackouts or brownouts are possible.

Another potential economic impact of the IoT cyber-attacks concerns the possibility or implications of tampering with the electrical grid system (CSIS, 2017). The implication is that the power grid system is the most vulnerable and has been a major topic of discussion or issue of contention.  Although plans and recommendations have been put across as concerning making the system secure, the vulnerability of the grid system lends a high to the possibility of the IoT devices connected to the system being used to launch attacks on the power system. The implication is that IoT has introduced a specific kind of risk to the grid system and if an attack happens, then significant economic losses can be recorded (Wortmann & Flüchter, 2015).

In summary, the paper explains some of the negative effects and implications of cyber-attack targeted at Internet of Things. Of particular emphasis is on the description of Internet of Things as a concept referring to the devices with the possibility of connecting to the Internet. The technology is fast becoming a common phenomenon in most homes owing to the increased adoption of convenient electric appliances. Despite such advancement, threat of cyber-attacks on IoT cannot be ignored. In particular, the paper outlines some of the negative impacts. For one, there is the problem with disruption of the daily operations especially when the attacks have targeted the normal services like communication and power systems. The attacks infringe on the privacy and freedom of individuals. In addition, cyber-attacks targeted at home devices and appliances have prospects for causing major economic losses.

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  1. Abomhara, M., & Køien, G. M. (2014, May). Security and privacy in the Internet of Things: Current status and open issues. In Privacy and Security in Mobile Systems (PRISMS), 2014 International Conference on (pp. 1-8). IEEE.
  2. CSIS, (2017). Managing Risk for the Internet of Things. Retrieved from https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/csis_managingriskinternetofthings.pdf
  3. Kumar, J. S., & Patel, D. R. (2014). A survey on the internet of things: Security and privacy issues. International Journal of Computer Applications, 90(11).
  4. Pan, Y., White, J., Schmidt, D. C., Elhabashy, A., Sturm, L., Camelio, J., & Williams, C. (2017). Taxonomies for Reasoning About Cyber-physical Attacks in IoT-based Manufacturing Systems. International Journal of Interactive Multimedia & Artificial Intelligence, 4(3).
  5. Sicari, S., Rizzardi, A., Grieco, L. A., & Coen-Porisini, A. (2015). Security, privacy and trust in Internet of Things: The road ahead. Computer Networks, 76, 146-164.
  6. Wortmann, F., & Flüchter, K. (2015). Internet of things. Business & Information Systems  Engineering, 57(3), 221-224.
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