IoT Security and the Home Consumer

 

True story. All I wanted was to upgrade our home thermostat to a smart one. What did I end up with? A lecture about IoT security. Who gave me the lecture? You won’t guess—my wife! Smart and educated, my wife is well-versed in what’s going on in the world through reading newspapers and watching TV newscasts.  She gave me many reasons why our home should be free of IoT. Some reasons were trivial, but some were very scary, like the possibility of a hacker taking control of our home’s temperature and maybe even causing the heater to overheat, burst into flames, and cause a house fire.

My wife objects to having any IoT devices introduced into our home if she is not convinced that our service provider and home router can prevent cyber-attacks.  It didn’t help telling her we can get the new thermostat at an employee discount as my friend works for the company making them. Nor did it help explaining how the new smart thermostat would improve our quality of life and reduce our energy bill. I even tried the aesthetic angle saying the new thermostat has a beautiful and slick design and would look great on our wall. No, I could not convince her. My wife, like many other consumers is afraid of becoming a victim of a DDoS hacker or any other form of cyber-attack.

Many people, just like my wife are concerned when it comes to cyber security. Last year, in a survey conducted by Gemalto that included 10,500 consumers around the world, it was revealed that 65% of those surveyed were concerned about a hacker controlling their connected devices. 60% were worried about their personal data being leaked. Many of those people, just like my wife are willing to stay in the “dark ages” with no IoT technology, to avoid being the next victim of an online cybercriminal.

The same survey also found other reasons why consumers are concerned with IoT security, including:

65%—A hacker could control one of their home devices

60%—Data could be leaked

54%—Personal information could be exposed

50%—IoT security weakness could be manipulated to commit a crime

44%—A hacker could edit device settings

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) around the world are partnering with cybersecurity companies to provide their mobile, home, and business customers with IoT security solutions involving unified network connectivity. The CSPs aim to answer consumer concerns by providing them with peace of mind regarding IoT security. The home network is one of the most vulnerable areas in the IoT security equation and it is the medium through which hackers can access IoT devices and exploit them. A network that is smart and secure will allow only legitimate connections to the IoT device while isolating and blocking any other connection attempts.

While manufacturers of printers, security cameras, baby monitors, and other connectable devices that comprise the Internet of Things come packaged with security firmware, that protection inevitably becomes outdated. Manufacturers do provide security update patches, but experience shows that most home users either don’t possess the technical expertise to install them, or they simply don’t make the effort. As a result, IoT devices, which many home users employ for years, become weak links in the security chain, providing open gates for cyberhackers to exploit.

IoT device manufacturers are trying to create hacker-proof products, but unfortunately, as we often hear on the news, new exploits are identified by hackers all the time. For this reason, a network security layer will provide Zero Day attack prevention.  Using unified Internet security services, CSPs can provide their customers with the peace of mind they require to embrace the age of IoT and enjoy the great advantages that it can bring.

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