As we see the Internet of Things really take off over the next few years, the added benefits that we’ll all be able to enjoy – whether that means intelligent home heating saving us money whilst keeping us warm or relying on a fridge to pick the cheapest milk to be delivered to our doorstep – will be huge.
Yet such advances also come with some real problems that will need addressing urgently. The first relates to digital identity. If I have 100 devices that are all intelligently transacting on my behalf, how will they know that I am indeed who I claim to be when telling them to stop?
However the second is no less important and relates to the fact that as the importance of the devices that are connected to the internet increases (whether cumulatively or individually as more parts of significant ‘things’ are brought online), the potential attack vectors from a security perspective will go through the roof.
It’s starting already. At the end of 2014, a report was released that explained how a German steel mill had been damaged by hackers who had broken into the system and prevented a steel furnace from being shut off. Cue “massive damage”.
The stakes are certainly getting higher. It looks very likely that America carried out a state-directed cyber-attack only a couple of weeks ago when North Korea was disconnected from the Internet. But interestingly it appears as if there’s only been one previous example of a hacker causing actual physical damage on the ground. You may remember Stuxnet, designed by the U.S.and Israel to damage centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear plants, which they did very successfully.
It seems like a great time to be a security expert.