On Leadership and the Dangers of the Internet of Things

What Business Leaders Need to Know to Keep Safe in Cyberspace

It’s clear there’s a lot of excitement when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea of becoming part of a fully interconnected world creates some intriguing possibilities, so much of the excitement is certainly justified.

With new technology, however, come definite fears. Of course, it is possible to take these fears too far. Scaremongering is nothing new after all, especially regarding technology, so it’s easy to dismiss these concerns as overreactions or exaggerations.

Fear stoking aside, the IoT does introduce new risks that are easy to overlook. Simply dismissing them actually does a disservice to the efforts being made to fight them. While overreacting is definitely not a preferred decision, ignoring the potential dangers of the IoT would be just as unwise.

Market Potential

The IoT industry is serious business, one that could be worth up to $300 billion, according to Gartner. With such a lucrative market just starting to find its legs, businesses have been eager to develop their own products, devices, and gadgets that take advantage of a ubiquitous connection, allowing companies to collect tons of data on their customers.

To call it a mad rush to gain a foothold in the IoT market would probably be an understatement. Businesses want their products out there, and they need them out there today.

Security Risk

In all this rush, security tends to take a backseat. Many manufacturers tend to ignore the secure-by-design approach when it comes to making their devices. This approach basically means that gadgets are created from the ground up with security in mind from the beginning.

It requires extra time, resources, and patience for companies to do this, something many aren’t willing to sacrifice. That means many enterprises are more focused on getting their devices out on the market and intend to worry about security later.

Needless to say, this opens up a lot of potential dangers.

Paying Close Attention

It’s a problem that’s getting widespread attention. Even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent out a warning last year, telling businesses they needed to make security and customer privacy a priority when making their IoT devices.

The FTC said that gadgets need to be designed with security in mind from the very start, instead of just adding new features in after the fact. Considering all of the possible devices that could connect to the IoT, it’s a word of warning that consumers will likely want to hear.

When speaking of the Internet of Things, the basic concept includes connecting nearly everything we use to the web in some way. This allows the devices to communicate with each other as well as the user.  As many are well aware of, the current devices we use (smartphones, tablets, etc.) carry the possibility of being hacked or infected with malware.

Imagine the headaches, expense, lost business, and the opportunity cost for leaders in business who get targeted and hacked. It can be devastating.

Losing Control

Losing control of something as important as a smartphone is painful enough. Now imagine if a household kitchen appliance were to be taken control of by a cyber attacker. Smart homes have long been touted as one of the benefits of the IoT, and they certainly do offer more convenience and greater capabilities.

At the same time, however, smart homes have the potential to be hacked, giving a malicious person control of things like lighting, heating, and even security systems. It’s no laughing matter and has even prompted the FBI to issue a warning of its own.

Beyond Your Business

The dangers go further than our business devices or our homes. Self-driving cars could become a mainstream reality one day, and there have already been examples of tech experts being able to hack cars from a distance. One doesn’t need to be an expert to know what kinds of dangers that introduces to the roads, and when self-driving cars are more prominent, the danger only increases.

Cars are only one hacking target that gets a lot of attention. Many systems and devices fall below the radar, like critical infrastructure (power plants, industrial machines). The IoT has a lot of security concerns to address as more things become connected to the internet.

Lead with Security in Mind

Much like the problems plaguing Hadoop security, IoT security may face similar obstacles if not constructed with security risks in mind from the start. Those fears can be faced though, and security challenges can be overcome.

It will require even more effort and development from the top tech experts and companies in the world, but eventually we’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of the Internet of Things without having to constantly worry if we’re truly safe.

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Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado is a Freelance Writer
He specialized in Technology and Business Growth
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