The Internet of Things has a dark side

Next Story

Twitter can be used to detect HIV outbreaks, study says

The Internet of Things (IoT) could leave your home more vulnerable to hackers than ever before, according to Cisco’s renowned computer engineer Eric Vyncke. For example, it was discovered that a smart refrigerator was sending malicious emails in February.

IoT is a general term that describes the phenomenon wherein things that we use in our everyday lives become connected to the internet, such as cars, glasses, watches, smoke detectors, thermostats and other appliances. Through this link, they significantly improve our standard of living and have better functionality. For example, they can be remotely controlled and adapted to the needs of their users.

However, they also have a dark side. Devices that were previously immune to cyber attacks are now at risk. For example, criminals can now determine if nobody is at home by detecting a sudden drop in electricity usage relayed by a smart metering utility system, said Vyncke.

Furthermore, hacker tools that were previously limited to mobile devices and personal computers, such as worms and trojans, can now infect a home security system or smart TV.

Even items without an IP address such as Nike’s FuelBand fitness device may pose some risk as the data they collect is synchronised on the internet, where it can be stolen.

In addition, IoT may allow malware developers and professional hackers to steal intellectual property or disrupt important infrastructure systems like power plants, power grids, oil pipelines and railway systems.