On a near-daily basis, the world in 2019 can remind you of the line Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Grant had in Jurassic Park.
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
This line came to mind, says David Barzilai, executive chairman and co-founder of Karamba Security, during company research on home IoT (Internet of Things) devices, which turned up an ad for a wireless mouse trap. A quick Google search revealed at least a half-a-dozen companies that sell smart mouse traps that you can hook up to your mobile device and which promise a “100% kill rate” for as little as $20 (€18).
All jokes aside, smart mouse traps do answer a consumer need: No longer do you need to wander down to the basement to check the traps or worry about forgetting a dead mouse in a trap somewhere in your house. That said, the wireless mouse trap is a perfect example of the soaring popularity of IoT devices like smart refrigerators and doorbells, that let you remotely manage the infrastructure of your personal life, no matter where you are.
The number of IoT devices worldwide was estimated at 7 billion in 2018, a number that is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, especially as market saturation makes these devices cheaper and 5G networks will have them working faster than ever before.
Entry points for attack
These devices can serve as entry points through which an entire network is attacked, and with billions of new devices – from smart printers to refrigerators to mouse traps – hitting the market, there will be unheard of levels of data that must be analysed on the edge.
There are three main threat vectors when it comes to cyberattacks on home devices: disturbance of daily life, denial of service, and data leakage. A hacker who makes your mouse trap ping repeatedly sending you to the basement for no reason would be annoying, but a hacker who hijacks your home surveillance cameras and posts the footage online is a whole other story.
Denial of service attacks can also be dangerous. Picture an attacker disabling your smart thermostat during a blizzard or a heat wave or disabling the carbon monoxide detector in your connected home security system.
And while our very concept of privacy has changed in an era when we willingly share so much of our daily lives online, there is still the ever present threat of data leakage, and the possibility that an attacker can use your smart home devices to penetrate your PC and pilfer your financial statements or bank and credit card details.
Don’t overlook the human factor
To protect consumers during the IoT age, manufacturers must embed cybersecurity software within products during the build stage. In addition, the human factor can’t be overlooked either. Something as simple as clicking on a phishing email or using a weak default password can be enough to open you up to attack, so vigilance is necessary.
When it comes to security in our new, connected reality, IoT devices are the weakest link. As the IoT revolution continues at a breakneck pace, it is imperative that we demand more stringent cybersecurity measures and use connected systems with embedded security that can keep up with the threats of today.
The author is David Barzilai, executive chairman and co-founder, Karamaba Security