Today, everything, and everyone is digital. From teens all having the newest smartphone, to families securing their house with smart cameras or keeping tabs on a baby with baby monitors, technology is ruling our lives and connecting it in every little way.
Since so many things are being connected, the term for this is the IOT, the Internet of Things. The IOT consists of what was mentioned above and so much more. It connects us to the internet, makes it easier to access some devices, makes our life easier and can even connect us to friends and family.
In addition to the IOT, it is important to understand our relationship to it, as well as how we connect with each other through the internet. We connect in many ways, more so than ever and we can take precautions to keep ourselves safe online, and make sure our private data stays private.
This article will discuss exactly these two things. The IOT and digital connection. It will look into our relationship with technology and how we can keep ourselves safe and when some things are best kept offline. Finally it will look at whether the IOT can keep us connected as well or whether it drives us apart.
What is it
The IOT alone is a vast network connecting various devices to the internet – often which don’t need to be. Most have even heard of the IOT even if they don’t know the name for it or what it exactly is. A good example of this is how most people will know about Google’s Home series or Amazon’s Alexa, but not know about baby monitors or smart refrigerators.
This industry is advancing at a tremendous pace. Technology is known to advance exponentially and it shows. As technology becomes more advanced, we can advance it quicker. The IOT industry is no exception as smart devices are becoming more and more common.
The global IoT market is expected to reach a value of USD 1,386.06 billion by 2026 from USD 761.4 billion in 2020
Many more examples exist as we move more and more towards smart devices. Examples of some smart devices that now exist are lawn mowers, watering tools, fridges and stoves and even deodorant. This is why the market is so rapidly increasing, everything is being turned into a “smart” device.
A lot of these devices we would never have even fathomed to put online, and now they are. However not all devices need to, or particularly should be put online. In fact, it can introduce security risks into an environment and lead to some bad consequences.
What can go wrong
Mostly these devices and “things” work as they should, and no issues arise, but when the problems do it can be catastrophic. These devices can fall victim to many different attacks. A prominent example of this is the Mirai botnet which infected these IoT devices and used all of them for DDOS attacks.
Mirai’s first big wave of attacks came on September 19, 2016, and was used against the French host OVH — because, as it later turned out, OVH hosted a popular tool that Minecraft server hosts use to fight against DDoS attacks. … The big attack on October 12 was launched by somebody else against Dyn, an infrastructure company that among other things offers DNS services to a lot of big websites. The FBI believes that this attack was ultimately targeting Microsoft game servers
However in this case, this did not happen. The Mirai attack happened because a lot of IOT devices are left unchanged when set up. This means the default user name and password works. So the attackers simply tried it, and it worked, allowing them to turn the IOT devices into bots for them to launch their attacks with.
Another example includes Google Dorking. Google dorking is manipulating google searches to reveal sensitive information. Google Hacking Database (GHDB) is a place to find different Google dorks and see what they can do. (NOTE: This information is for educational purposes only, and Cyber Code does not condone or endorse any illegal or malicious activity)
From these Google dorks you can find various things online. Examples include remote security cameras, login pages, passwords etc… For the purpose of this article, the interesting one is the remote security cameras and other various online devices.
Unless protected properly. the devices we put online can be accessed by hackers fairly easily. From the Google Hacking Database, one can access login panels for smart cameras with default passwords, or cameras which require no login at all. In addition to the GHDB, Shodan provides a search engine specifically for finding online devices and insights and reports into this. Numerous conclusions can be drawn from the data that Shodan provides, such as how many people are getting smart fridges in Canada, or how many people were affected by the Heartbleed attack.
How To Secure IOT Devices
With everything that can go wrong with IOT devices, protecting them is very crucial to keeping yourself and your devices safe. This can mean setting a new complex password, and configuring lockout on so many login failures, as to prevent brute force attacks. Kaspersky elaborates on this, advising users to avoid accessing their IOT from public Wi-Fi, using strong passwords as mentioned above, changing the name(SSID) of the router, using two factor authentication, and strong encryption to keep your devices safe.
While all of this may seem daunting to keep yourself secure, it is important to protect yourself from hackers. However, it is good to note that not every device is worthwhile making or getting the smart version of. Not all devices should be interconnected. If your existing offline device worked great and it is just time for an upgrade, the smart version may not be worth it, as it adds extra hassle of securing and maintaining it – which is necessary too. A lot of times the features are not really needed either. Instead, they act as a cool gimmick you will use once or twice and not use again. In these cases, the offline version is much better to get.
This being said, some online devices are handy to have and can prove quite useful. Smart home security systems can be good to have if you are out constantly and want to keep tabs on your home from afar, or doorbell cameras to prevent porch pirates if you get a lot of deliveries. In addition to this, smart home thermostats are more energy efficient and not only conserve energy, but reduce your monthly bill. These are examples of smart devices that may be worth getting, they provide clear benefits over their traditional not smart device.
However things such as smart fridges or smart lawn mowers probably are not worth the investment. Typically, people are not going to play music from their fridge or use it to get new recipes. This is an example of the type of smart device not worth getting as the traditional version works just as well, and does not introduce new security risks into your network. The features here will most likely be used once or twice as a cool gimmick but wear off quickly and the user will resort back to playing music traditionally and looking up recipes via google anyways.
The advice here is not to never get smart devices, or to rid yourself of every one you have but to make you aware of the potential security risks that comes with one and how to solve that. In the case where you have devices that are needed, or are planning to get one, learning how to secure it is crucial to keeping your home secure. In the other case, some devices just are not worth it, and it is wise to think of how connected we really need to be, and what devices we can forgo.
How The IOT Connects Us
Now that the IOT itself has been defined, as well as the risks that go along with it, we can talk about the connections it fosters. There are three types of connections that occur with the IOT, device to device, device to human, and human to human. Human to human may seem odd as it does not directly involve a device, but we will see how the IOT actually can connect us to each other, directly or indirectly.
Device to Device
Device to device connection is pretty self explanatory, it is when two devices are connecting each other. This is also very prevalent with IOT devices. Computers make connections to other devices all the time with web requests, game servers and more, but they do not always synergize with other pieces of technology.
The synergy with other devices is where IOT devices shine. Examples of this are very prevalent where an IOT device integrates with another device, IOT or not. Consider a smart health monitoring device, such as a blood pressure machine. Normally it does not store the data, however a smart version could send the data to your phone instantly and track it over time. Health technologies are advancing at a rapid pace too, even pacemakers can be a smart device now and can be controlled and modified from the doctor’s computer, another example of device to human interaction.
What this means is that the internet gets even more connected. All of the devices get interconnected like a web. Sometimes smart devices can even connect to other smart devices meaning the web grows again. The possibilities are very much endless when discussing how to integrate technology and we will only find more ways to integrate it all.
Device to Human
Another very common connection within the IOT is the device to human/human to device connection. While the behind the scenes device to device connection takes place automatically, often we must drive an action initially ourselves. A good example of this would be a smart home heating system. It can run on it own to make it the ideal temperature and save energy, and has device to device connections (typically to a phone via a smart home app). However, we can also change the temperature manually. This means that we connect with our device to make this change first.
This type of connection is not very complex and is just how we are interacting with technology. Yet it can become more complex than before too, as the way we can control our systems is advancing and all of the things we can do with it are advancing as well.
Human to Human
While it may seem strange that the IOT can foster human to human connections, it actually makes a lot of sense. For this article, the definition of this kind of connection has to be loose. By human to human connection, it means anyway 2 or more humans are connecting. This can be via text, phone call, chat messaging, social media, making plans via the internet and more.
Using this definition we can easily see how IOT devices can connect us in many ways. Take a smart home system for example. It has every connection there is and very clearly shows this. It connects to and can control other smart devices, integrating very well with them. A smart home system can be controlled by the user, and often voice controlled, connecting us with the technology.
Finally the human to human connection. Via your smart home system, or other smart devices such as a watch, you can send texts and calls to other people, including video calls. Furthermore, you can make plans and reminders with IOT devices too, such as making plans with others. Therefore, with all of these connections to other humans, texting, calling, planning and more, it helps you connect to other humans.
This means that we are becoming digitally interconnected as never before. Through devices communicating with each other, to human computer interaction becoming larger and more complex than ever, to even humans connecting with one another through IOT devices.
In the end, the IOT is revolutionizing technology at a tremendous pace. However it does have some risks to it.
Firstly, it is best to think about if we truly need each smart device, or if the former one will do just as well. And secondly, there are plenty of things you can do to secure your digitally interconnected life. Making sure to have secure passwords and enabling two factor authentication is a good way to start doing this.
Once we have gotten the appropriate IOT devices and secured them as much as we can, it is time to enjoy the benefits they bring. Aside from convenience, and aside from connecting to other devices, these IOT devices can truly help us connect with others. Whether it is through texting, video calling, or simply making plans, smart devices are making staying connected easier and bringing us a new age of digital interconnection.