The IoT allows for the measurement, collection, transmission, and usage analysis of countless objects, from cars to clothes. For marketers and business strategists, the IoT generates massive amounts of data that exposes the behaviors and passions of millions of customers and potential customers.

In this time of great concerns over privacy and security, the question remains, regarding the Internet of Things: How Safe?

Security Concerns

In October 2016, a denial-of-service attack crippled Dyn, which provides vital internet infrastructure. The attack was carried out via a botnet of hacked devices — webcams, camcorders and even baby monitors.

Fortunately, there were no casualties reported due to the attack. But as several experts have noted, that may not always be the case.

The problem is, with the dramatic growth in the Internet of Things, comes a proliferation of devices and computers with lax security. The probability for bad actors to inflict chaos and bodily harm increases daily.

Extent of Exposure

Today, there are about 4.9 million devices in the Internet of Things. This number is projected to reach 25 billion by 2020. Yet a study by HP Security Research showed that 70 percent of the objects within the IoT contained major security flaws. Ninety percent of devices used unencrypted network service and 70 percent had weak passwords.

If this sounds more like science fiction than science fact, consider the following:

  • Former vice president Dick Cheney had the internet connection on his pacemaker turned off in 2007
  • Ford, GM, and Toyota have been sued by plaintiffs claiming the automakers have deliberately hidden the dangers associated with car computer systems
  • A former Tesla intern, Eric Evenchick, created a device the size of a credit card that can allow a user to take over an Internet-connected car. The cost? $59.95

Government Intervention?

Bruce Schneier, a Harvard lecturer and noted cyber security expert, urges the federal government to get involved. He argues that manufacturers have little incentive to prioritize internet security. He advocates for a new government agency that would establish and oversee cybersecurity rules. However, business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Consumer Technology Association argue that such restrictions would stifle innovation.

In the meantime, there are tips individuals can take to remain protected, according to USA Today:

  • Don’t store personally identifiable information, including your name, on any device
  • Read the details and understand what information is being collected and shared by your devices, including apps
  • Use complex passwords
  • Use anti-malware and anti-virus tools on mobile devices, especially smartphones

Connected devices are going to be a part of our lives going forward. The impact and risk associated with those devices is an issue yet to be determined.