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IoT (Internet of things) is the new buzzword and everyone is talking about it, from connected vending machines, parking meters, fridges, cars…you get the picture. According to Gartner by the year 2020 there will 250 billion IoT devices globally.


Remember these are not computers. It is inevitable that many of these will leave vulnerabilities, which criminals can access. Whilst the recent example of a fridge sending out spam can be considered relatively harmless imagine the danger if criminals get access to pacemakers or insulin pumps for diabetics.  According to recent news reports former US Vice President Dick Cheney revealed he had turned off his pacemaker’s wireless function while in office for fear that criminals could threaten to tamper with his pacemaker to extort money or worse.

In addition, exploiting the vulnerabilities of IoT and hand recognition software could be used to lock people out of homes or cars.  One can only hope that while cyber security is so high on the agenda for everyone, that companies manufacturing these devices have taken the appropriate steps to consider their vulnerabilities and built in controls both now and for the future to protect these devices.  Organisations today spend billions of pounds trying to protect their IT infrastructure, which is a constant battle and still leads to compromise.  So what hope do we have for these relatively simple devices that can result in devastating attacks. Will consumers who have these devices be expected to patch their own pacemakers or cars?

The real dangers of IoT will be when a murder is committed by an insulin pump or a heart attack induced by a pacemaker. Criminals will stand to start a complete new economy for hacking these devices and getting rich by blackmailing their victims.

Question is when is the first murder?

Image courtesy of dream desings@freedigitalphotos.net

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Rashmi Knowles

Rashmi is Chief Security Architect at RSA, The Security Division on EMC. In her role Rashmi is responsible for Technology and Compliance Solutions for the EMEA region. Her current responsibilities include working with customers in a Trusted Advisor role, Thought Leadership for emerging technologies and key spokesperson in the region for RSA’s Virtualisation and Cloud strategy and Compliance Solutions and a subject matter expert on Data Loss Prevention and Encryption Solutions. Rashmi has over twenty years experience in data communications, mobile communications and has focussed on Information Security for the last 15 years. Rashmi holds a degree in Computer Science from the De Montfort University and a Post Graduate in Computer Studies from the University of the South Bank, London. For ThoughtFeast articles and general IT news follow me on twitter: @KnowlesRashmi

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