According to Cisco, by the year 2025, over 75 billion devices will be connected to the internet. These devices, many of which comprise the internet of things (IoT), represent a rapid expansion in the industry that extends to every facet of our lives, from our clocks to our cars. With this expansion comes risk, however, as threats to our privacy and security become increasingly commonplace.
The Source of Vulnerabilities
Understandably, cyber security is crucial for maintaining the viability of any business. Increasingly, however, the systems responsible for our security are the ones most at risk of being compromised.
The IoT has revolutionized the security industry, both in homes and commercially, as security devices make up almost half of the IoT. Worryingly, these security devices also make up the majority of those that have been hacked.
Many of these systems, especially the cheaper models, are based on similar blueprints, and as a consequence, vulnerabilities found in one provider’s design may well be present in a multitude of others.
Flaws like these are being identified across the spectrum of computer systems. Open-source libraries, while invaluable to the development of software, have presented cybersecurity experts with an increasingly difficult challenge.
Much like the common blueprints of IoT devices, the open-source libraries common across countless desktop and mobile applications can produce the same vulnerability in many different applications, despite them being very different on the surface. Indeed, recent reviews estimate that over 70% of applications currently in use possess one or more vulnerabilities as a result of an open source library.
Taylored Systems, experts in the industry, recommend regular updating of software and firmware to maintain security. Because these security flaws are constantly being exposed and patched, regular security updates are imperative for maintaining the integrity of any business’ systems.
The motivation behind attacks
There are a number of common objectives hackers may have once a vulnerability has been exploited. Ransomware is one of the most prevalent of these objectives, holding a business’ computer systems hostage until a payment, usually in a cryptocurrency, is made.
Cryptocurrency is a common theme among cyber attacks. Hackers may not want you to know your system has been compromised, instead quietly using the processing power of your machines to mine cryptocurrency for them.
These attacks can be particularly hard to detect, though they are usually characterized by an unexplained slowing down of performance across machines. Smart, connected systems are being integrated into every facet of industry and business.
Researchers recently uncovered a flaw in connected industry equipment controlling assembly line robotics, allowing them to monitor and even manipulate their behavior to add unverified modifications to products.
While these vulnerabilities were patched, it highlights the glaring holes in the security of systems with dangerous, real-world consequences.
Smart systems, while highly beneficial to modern business and industry, present a number of security challenges. The increasing connectivity of devices and their crosstalk leave vulnerabilities that often go unnoticed until it is too late.
While, for the moment, it is largely eCommerce and financials at risk, as production and maintenance systems become increasingly connected, the consequences of security breaches will have life-threatening implications. With this in mind, businesses must put more emphasis than ever on security measures, especially patching and updating of software.