THE INTERNET OF THINGS – NO, NOT AGAIN.
Often defined as “a network of physical objects embedded with smart technology, able to communicate and interact with the external environment”, there are so many IoT definitions out there that I won’t even bother going through all of them again. The idea is that IoT is great if put to good use. If not, we might have a problem. Worse than that, if it is not properly secured, we have an even bigger problem. Just like in the movie, ”
The idea is that IoT, if put to good use, is a miracle and if not, we might have a problem. Worse than that, if it is not properly secured, we have an even bigger problem. Just like in the movie, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” if you like.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS – THE GOOD
Imagine running late to a business meeting. With the help of IoT, well, connected devices, your smartcar could anticipate and try to solve the problem before it even occurs. It syncs with your diary, checks with the smart city sensors, roads, other cars, traffic, maps, and it announces you are running out of time, based on the given circumstances.
As it progresses, as your car knows, based on the data received back, if you will not reach the meeting in time, it sends a message to the person you are meeting, letting them know you are running late.
Imagine the world where your fitness tracker, or a smart sensor in your bed, knows when you are awake in the morning and sends a signal to your coffee machine, to prepare your daily dose.
Imagine arriving at work and rather than having to clock-in, the smart sensor in the store knows exactly when you’re there, to calculate your time-sheets.
Imagine working in an office where the equipment knows when they are running low on supplies and automatically ordered new cartridges and paper.
Without a doubt, the internet of things has the potential of becoming a game-changer in all aspects of our lives. Sadly, it is not that easy to predict its future, not when there are serious issues, still to address. Security is the most obvious one, as the internet of things could become another rich playing field for malware, extortion, and general chaos.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS – THE BAD
Let’s be honest, not everything is pink in the world of IoT. Your digital footprints are mined, aggregated and analysed predicting your presence, intent, sentiment, adoption, behaviour and even intentions.
Back in the mid-2000s, Narus Semantic traffic analysers were able to process ten gigabytes of IP packets, three gigabytes of emails and web traffic, all per second. What started as the “human profiling project” in 2000, it has become what we nowadays call, the “mass surveillance program.”
Program Oakstar. Stormbrew. Prism. Tempora. NSA in the U.S. or, the GCHQ in the U.K., we areeverywhere. In this light, the level of data generated by the merger of the IoT with social media can cause significant concern. It is no longer just browsing and telecommunications data, but you. Yourdigital persona, the missing puzzle, in a mass surveillance society.
We could use the IoT to design the most efficient mass surveillance infrastructure ever, or we can use it to augment our experiences and save lives, like the nuclear power: fission or fusion. For a better world, or to obliterate us; there is always a choice.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS – THE UGLY
Is there anything worse than living in a “big brother” kind of society? Well, yes. Going broke, homeless, jobless, losing your family and your life. Not that you care much once that happens but you get the idea. Apart from the risk of “big brother” and without sounding too pessimistic, there are greater risks lying ahead of us, spreading from the virtual realm to the physical one. Allow me to explain.
If the IoT’s adoption continues to grow with at least the same speed witnessed over the last few months, we won’t have time to keep up and secure. The IoT is plagued with inherited flaws from the post-PC era. The IoT is more than connected vacuum cleaners, coffee machine and light bulbs. The IoT, together with IIoT (Industrial IoT) forms the IoE which encompasses industrial tools, heavy machines, jet engines, drills, transportation systems, oil rigs, hospitals, financial systems humans, and even warfare tools and robots.
If not secured, “the ugly” times will commence with cryptocurrency attacks, growing from isolated Bitcoin strikes, exploiting computers and digital wallets via basic vulnerabilities, to global hits, targeting exchanges and national reserves.
IoT disaster stories, involving driverless cars, aeroplanes, drones, hospitals, power grids, nuclear factories, water plants, ventilation systems, even traffic lights and elevators will become daily headlines.
For the first time ever in our digital history, the IoT bestow the cyber criminals with unprecedented powers of altering, not only the digital but also the physical world. Traditional attacks against computers, information and data, become the cyberattacks of tomorrow, against steel, concrete, and human flesh.
Through IoT, new waves of cyberattacks are taking the threats, hacks and embarrassments, from the personal to the global level, chaos ensues, and millions die. And yes, maybe these scenarios overhype the idea of mass destruction, but in reality, there is no way you can deny the risks.