Your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning. The fitness band in your hand has conveyed that you had a sound sleep of seven hours. Based on the fact you did exercise or not, you get a notification of what to eat today. Your coffee maker and water heater check the weather update and prepare the perfect coffee and hot water. The curtains of the bedroom, after checking out the sunrise time on the internet, open at the perfect time. Your phone checks out the traffic updates and calculates the perfect time to leave for office. Once you lock the door, a cab is automatically booked and by the time you reach the road, the cab is already there. Good morning, this was just a glimpse of the morning!
This is how good the future is going to be, thanks to the Internet of Things(IoT). IoT is a concept where everything is connected to the internet. Not only the “Things” are connected, they are also managed by each other. They have the intelligence to take decisions on their own with minimum human intervention. The “Things” are not only the computers, laptops, mobile phones, but also home appliances, machinery and traffic lights. These connected things are now resulting in a converging ecosystem where billions of devices communicate and manage each other. As per tech analysts, this would result in dramatic improvement in the quality of living. A look at the statistics strongly suggests that the IoT is soon going to be an integral part of our lives.
As per a report of Gartner(http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3165317), the number of IoT devices in 2014 was a meager 3.8 billion. In 2016, the number has jumped to a massive 6.4 billion. And as per the trends, by 2020, there would be around 20.8 billion devices connected to the internet. And with this, it may cross the human population! Yes, the realm of IoT is becoming a reality soon and with this, new challenges are popping up too. And the most critical challenge is to secure the Internet of Things. With the advent of IoT, we are making a transition from an ecosystem consisting of just computers, phones, and few other devices to a massive ecosystem consisting of almost everything ranging from a water heater to a traffic signal. And with this, the number of entry points to the system is burgeoning.
The pertinent question to ask here is – how much have we thought about securing IoT? Are we ready to wade off any new security vulnerability that tries to infect IoT? Some pertinent challenges are -IoT involves all kinds of devices that communicate with each other. Can we ensure that all these devices are updateable? Can the vendors ensure security patches to the devices as and when a new exploit is discovered? And in case, a patch is not available, can it be feasible to replace them? -Can these IoT devices have proper authentication and authorization? Can there be strict password policy to protect all the connecting devices from unauthorized use? Even if a password is enabled, what are the ways in which the passwords are changed? -It is predicted that sensors would play an important role in the future of IoT. Are there security measures in place to prevent tamper of sensors? -In a case of a hack, do we have a mechanism for isolating the hacked component out of the system and replace it with a backup component? Can we do it at a nominal time? -In a world, where pirated software is on the loose, can we ensure that the IoT ecosystem has only genuine and prescribed software and hardware?
The points mentioned above are few of the new challenges that we have to address soon.Are we ready to face these challenges? With everything being connected to an internet, the threat of attack is now from anywhere on Earth. And if it goes unchecked, a Pandora box of vulnerabilities would eclipse the virtues of IoT. With 6.4 billion devices already connected, the billion dollar question is – Are we ready to secure them?