As we increase our global connections through the Internet of Things (IoT), so will incidents of attacks

Computer systems are all over the world, at the heart of most businesses, governments and homes. They play an important role in how we live our daily lives. The internet allows us to communicate with people across the globe and even into space. Computer systems allow people to collaborate on projects of all sizes, to reach great new highs, and to make important discoveries. Along with this they are excellent record keepers that can survive some of the worst disasters to ever befall the planet. However, one thing that affects all computer systems, regardless of simplicity application or industry, is that they are all susceptible to cyber-attack.

As technology moves forward and becomes more accessible, cheaper and reliable, people are more likely to have multiple devices. Large organisations are no longer the only vulnerable entities out there, anyone who has a smart device can be affected by some form of cyber-attack.

IoT attacks

There has been a large increase in the number of cyber security attacks over the last few years. Any internet search will display millions of results explaining what’s to blame, how much an attack has cost financially and what people are doing to mitigate the problem. As the number of devices increase the number of attacks will increase. It has been estimated that the number of connected devices will reach 50 billion by 2020, which works out to approximately 8 devices per person on the planet. A percentage of these IoT devices have little or no security.

‘IoT attacks grew 280% from the prior six-month reporting period, with a large chunk of this growth stemming from Mirai—malware that infects IoT devices and turns them into bots.’ (Reese, 2017)

There are a wide variety of attacks that can affect IoT devices. The most common one is a Denial of Service (DOS) attack. This can be done by flooding a device or connection with large amounts of data requests. It could also be done by simply pulling the plug on a device. Other attacks include a man in the middle attack to make a device perform an unwanted function or to steal data. The biggest issue is that many devices are unsecure. They may have some security but most devices out there are still vulnerable. These vulnerabilities mean the devices can be taken over and turned into bots, they can be forced to behave unexpectedly and even change physical elements such as the control of heating and lighting.

Will it stay in proportion?

It is very hard to say at this current point in time. If the number of devices we have doubles it does not necessarily mean that the number of attacks will also double. An educated guess can be made due to the fact attacks are on the rise. IoT will, and has already opened a whole new avenue for attacks. Many manufactures of IoT devices are working hard to secure their current devices and improve security for the next generation of devices. Better security on these devices will mean that although more attacks are happening they will be less successful.

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