How SMART are we?

By | Published On: 14 April 2021 | 3.4 min read |

Do you remember having to get up to change TV channels or a radio station?  Did you carry around 10p for that emergency phone call home? Stepping into that red tardis to “check in with mum” or “ask for a lift home”.  Hoping that you’d remember the phone number.  Writing appointments in a diary – did you remember a pen? 

Technology has moved on and the internet plays a big part in how we live today.  Even our homes have developed “smartness” with everyday appliances having built-in sensors or controllers that are connected to our internet and enable virtual set-up and control.

We are all becoming SMART – or are we?

Security has played a big part in us making our homes “smart”. It can promote and support independence; give peace of mind to families and the elderly; provide support for the vulnerable. But how secure is it really and is it making us more vulnerable to scammers and hackers?

So pretty much any device, appliance or object can be made into an IoT device. They connect to the internet to send data and receive instructions without human action.  Surely this is a good thing? Think carefully about this and the potential vulnerability of internet-enabled sensors producing a rich mass of data.  This is creating a security blind spot and allowing cybercriminals to compromise these devices – smart TVs, smart household appliances, printers, virtual assistant AI such as Alexa and our so-called SMART homes. Hackers can exploit all of these, taking control and compromising your devices and the data they share.  Not so SMART now.

It is estimated that by 2025 there will be 75 billion IoT devices globally, with smart homes and wearable devices seeing a surge in popularity. Utilities are one of the highest users of IoT with the increasing rollout of smart meters and security devices a close second.

Individuals are exposed to a big cybersecurity risk.  What started out as a “thing” that would make life easier, make us SMART, is now a big headache that could cost us thousands. You may ask how this risk differs from that of traditional internet usage.  Quite simply – us. IoT doesn’t need people to work.  These “things” rely on sensors that collect, review and act on data which is then shared.  What an opportunity for hackers.

Businesses are equally at risk with access being gained to secure networks through printers and VoIP systems as well as other connected devices. Businesses will have to work hard to keep themselves cybersecure. It is more important than ever for businesses to ensure their networks are secure; making sure routine checks are carried out on networks, fixing any vulnerabilities, and minimizing any risk from security breaches.

The internet provider Beaming reported that in 2020 businesses in UK had a cyberattack every 46 seconds.  This was almost a fifth more than the previous year with a tenth of all attacks aimed at IoT devices.

The IoT is a new chapter in technology and IoT cyber attacks could cost the UK economy £1bn each year.  With many devices coming onto the market and being used by businesses, without IoT security, the financial threat to the UK economy could be critical.  Many of these devices are being used in key industries such as transport, healthcare, and manufacturing.

With cyber security being at the top of the UK government’s agenda, they are working to try and ensure that SMART devices have built in security. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport announced new law in 2020 due to the rapid increase in the use of internet connected devices and the lack of basic cyber security provision.  This will put the onus on manufacturers to ensure cyber security by design and require that manufacturers state the minimum length of time that the device will receive security updates and that they have unique passwords that are not resettable to a factory setting.

IoT is evolving, becoming intelligent and getting SMARTER.