General 3min de Leitura - 05 de July de 2018

Internet of Things: what is it and what are the security challenges?

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It is wonderful to think of the way the internet spreads throughout the world. Although approximately 35% of Brazilians still do not have Internet access (IBGE data), this does not prevent the resource from being improved and used in an innovative way through other applications – both nationally and internationally.

The Internet of Things strongly fosters this ecosystem of innovation, providing facilities and benefits to the day-to-day activities. But do you know what this technology is and what challenges does it present to adapt technology to a secure resource? We will discuss this in the next few lines, just continue reading.

What is the Internet of Things?

Also known as IoT, the technology here is M2M communication – that is, a connection machine to machine through the internet. This means that different objects and resources can be connected, communicating with each other and with the user and perform activities that would not be possible without the internet.

To illustrate this concept, imagine a refrigerator with adapted features, connected directly to the internet. When some product is about to expire, sensors emit and receive data from the internet and thus enable the same product to be bought and restocked in the refrigerator. All this without human interaction (and concern).

In short, things would have freedom and dependence to perform daily activities that facilitate the well-being of the user. All this because they are connected to the web, which allows them to develop their own intelligence to execute and reproduce actions that until then were exclusively human thing.

How did IoT come about?

It was a British called Kevin Ashton who coined the term “Internet of Things” and introduced the technology to the market. It all began in the 1990s (in the year 1999 to be more precise) when he worked at Procter and Gamble.

In a presentation to the directors and managers of the company, Kevin suggested innovating the labeling of products: he wanted to carry out the process electronically through a technology called RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). This would ease the corporate routine, giving more efficiency and agility in the processing of the business model.

At the time – and what Ashton says to date – his idea was based on the possibility of connecting two distinct networks: the one of the internet and that of things, objects and physical resources. In his own way, he wanted things to be independent to perform certain scheduled tasks without the direct and exclusive necessity of human interaction.

While this was an innovation introduced almost 20 years ago, it only became popular in mid-2010 with Google’s StreetView, which would be creating 360-degree photos and storing data from users’ wi-fi networks.

Today, however, this technology is expanding and surprising more and more – numerous companies have already made their products synchronized to IoT and many others are investing in the resource. It is a new model of innovation.

What are the security challenges?

While Internet of Things has a number of benefits – and was created precisely to facilitate and benefit the life of the consumer – it can also provide a series of security incidents capable of causing the most varied types of disasters.

According to a Gartner survey, approximately 8.4 billion “things” have been connected since 2017. Televisions, game consoles, home appliances, electronic surveillance systems, locks are just a few examples of devices that may be connected to the Internet these days. It is a breakthrough on a large scale and the trend has been growing. Although this is the progress of technological innovation, often the safety of “things” is disregarded or evaluated as the ultimate instance of the product.

As a consequence, any equipment that is in line with IoT can be a gateway to cybercrime activities. That’s because all things would be connected to the home or corporate network, which would allow a threat to infiltrate an equipment and reach that network to carry out kidnappings, data leaks, etc.

One way to generate protection is using domestic firewalls, but few homes have this feature mode. Thus, the greater the demand and supply for products with IoT technology, security should also be one of the points collected and analyzed. There is little point in revolutionary equipment if it has flaws, especially of safety devices that can compromise an entire environment.

For security analysts, a good tip would be to perform intrusion, diagnostic, or other procedures that can adequately test the security present in such equipment. Still, the Internet of Things came to innovate and accelerate the technological process in Brazil and in the world.

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