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Cybersecurity is the primary concern in information technology. Billions of dollars are lost every year due to cybercrime. The advent of the internet of things and interconnected devices has led to home appliances being connected to the web to increase functionality (Theodoridis, 2015). It is therefore essential that the vulnerability of such devices is evaluated to provide information regarding how and when such attacks against sensitive home devices are secure.
Cyber Security and the Internet of Things
Advancements in microprocessor and telecommunications technology have led to the advent of interconnected home appliances. Such devices are connected to the Internet and employ new techniques such as artificial intelligence to increase on functionality and efficiency (Aycock, 2012). For instance, a thermostat may use weather information and data on the internet to optimize ambient temperatures in a given premises while the power system controls lighting depending on the time of the year. The concept of having home appliances and even motor vehicles connected to the Internet to improve functionality is known as the web of things.
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The internet of things has dramatically enhanced the efficiency of home appliances and increased the overall productivity of users. For instance, one may set their fridge to order for items that are in low supply. However, the integration of such appliances and devices into the daily lives of individuals poses a severe security risk (Mukhopadhyay, 2016). With cybersecurity breaches being ever more prevalent, it is essential to evaluate the safety implications of using such devices to the individual users and the world as a whole. It is widely agreed that the internet of things poses a unique security challenge for people and organizations world over.
It was established that different internet of things devices could be compromised and used e to harm an individual user or any given organization. Malicious entities were found to have hacked into the different Internet of things devices to either gain data from the affected user or to bring into disrepute the associated manufacturer or organization. Internet of stuff related devices were also found to have been compromised and used to compromise other systems, for instance, thirty-five percent of methods used in denial of service attacks over the last three-quarters were the internet of things related devices, marking a one hundred percent increase from previous quarters.
The research also found that minimal security features had been incorporated into devices used in the internet of things. Despite the increase in sophistication and functionality, devices such as connected thermostats employed necessary security protocols (Aycock, 2012). Essential security features that are easy to bypass and compromise were the leading factor to the rapid increase in cybersecurity threats against connected home appliances. It was found that manufacturers of the devices did not prioritize incorporating advanced security features to the devices. 56% of the devices in the research study were found to be easy to compromise and manipulate.
Despite the research being able to come up with the reasons behind the increasing cybersecurity incidents involving connected home appliances, the study did not provide a clear picture of the effects of the attacks including the devices (Higgins, 2016). The value of the data compromised during a raid of such devices was not elaborated to give a comparison to offenses such as identity theft. It was also not developed if the means employed in orchestrating attacks on the internet of things devices are similar or different to conventional cyber-attacks.
Advantages of Using IoT Devices
Technological advancements are changing how human beings live and carry out business. With the miniaturization of microprocessors, devices are increasingly becoming smaller and more powerful, leading to more application cases. Using IoT devices may significantly increase productivity and the access to services and products. For instance, a connected refrigerator may automatically reorder an item such as milk once levels fall below the specified levels to an online vendor. The vendor may in turn use drones to deliver the liquid; such processes are bound to reduce the usage of resources such as fuel that would have been used to go shopping while being convenient and sustainable.
IOT also provides for new frontiers from which technology can improve the lives of humans. Data generated and collected from the interconnected devices may enable organizations better optimize their services and products (The International Telecommunication Union, 2015). In an example, the data received from thermostats in a given area from houses and vehicles may be used to monitor environmental and climatic changes. Such data may be used to plan for and individual climate change within the region and correctional remedies taken.
Disadvantages and Risks
The research effort applied various methods to come up with the data and information presented. The primary purpose used was a useful observation. Simulated attacks on a sample of the interconnected devices and their reactions provided a real-world picture of how various cyber-attacks would be carried out and how the tools would respond (Higgins, 2016). The simulated cyber-attacks also offered insight on the different vulnerabilities and how they could be exploited by the malicious entities. Data collected from this exercise was realistic and representative of a real-life scenario.
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The results from both experiments were similar. The interconnected devices were easily compromised and could be used to compromise data or other systems. Regardless of the underlying architecture and manufacturer, both set up exhibited the ease with which such devices may be compromised and be used to carry out further attacks, such as denial of service attacks (Theodoridis, 2015). In both cases, the devices could be easily directed to perform numerous requests to the local file server. This explains the increased use of interconnected home appliances to conduct the brute force and denial of service attacks. It is noteworthy that the Intel-based devices were marginally more robust as compared to the AMD based devices.
It is therefore evident that the interconnected devices as currently produced and designed are highly vulnerable to attacks (Higgins, 2016). Individuals using such methods are consequently at risk of having their devices and confidential information compromised and or their devices used in coordinating and carrying out cybersecurity attacks. Cybersecurity has been one of the fundamental drawbacks of the adoption and widespread use.
It is essential that Internet of Things based devices incorporate various security measures to ensure that data being transmitted is secure. It is also necessary that the tools are safe such that they may not be used to coordinate attacks such as denial of service attacks on other internet-based services.
- Aycock, J. (2012). Computer Viruses and malware. New York: Springer.
- Higgins, M. (2016). Cybersecurity (2nd ed.). Minneapolis: Abdo Publishing.
- Mukhopadhyay, S. C. (2016). Internet of things. Mumbai: Springer International.
- Theodoridis, S. (2015). Machine learning. New York: Elsevier Science.
- The International Telecommunication Union. (2015). The internet of things. New York: International Telecommunication Union.