Unless you’ve been living in absolute solitude without a hint of a Wi-Fi or radio signal, I’m sure you’ve been exposed to some shocking headlines about cyber attacks over the last few years. When you consider that there are 4.9 billion devices and sensors connected to each other, this news can be quite concerning. Worse, it appears that no one is immune: all levels of government, retailers, automakers, financial institution, manufacturers, hotels, celebrities, and even the military have been affected.
What does this mean for the average man, woman, and child who is part of this ecosystem of streaming data? Is the risk so great that we should disconnect from the digital world we’ve created? Granted, significant hacks have decreased in recent years – from 36 in 2011 to 20 in 2014. But, will our data ever be fully secure?
Sorry, cyber attackers … we’re onto you
While nothing in life is 100% anything, “maybe this is the wake-up call the Internet of Things (IoT) world needs to make certain that privacy and security are baked in, not just afterthoughts,” W. David Stephenson, an internationally recognized IoT thought leader, strategist, theorist and writer, stated in his recent blog. And it appears that Stephenson is correct – cyber-security jobs have increased by 76% over the last size years (nearly twice the growth rate of other IT positions).
For cyber criminals, this trend is bad news, especially when IoT providers and consumers become wise to these four dirty secrets:
- Consumers are worth more than they can ever imagine. Information is worth more than oil – especially on the black market. For example, new credit card information is can rake in as much as $32 billion. Your healthcare records? Try $10 billion. In essence, consumers are worth billions to anyone who takes hold of their data – more money than 99% of us will earn in a lifetime.
- Hackers are not kids and twenty-somethings without something better to do. Most cyber criminals are seasoned veterans with more experience than the IT professional tasked with defending IT infrastructures from cyber attacks. Often, they are former employees who feel they were wrongfully treated. Others may be whistleblowers, angry consumers, or ethics advocates looking for change.
- Cyber attacks are not ad hoc and short-term. Quite the opposite. Threats today are long-term, coordinated campaigns aimed at disrupting the entire business in multi-wave attacks.
- It’s not as hard as you think. The barrier for entering IT systems has never been lower. Organizations must now grapple unsatisfactory security. In fact, cyber attackers are using zero-day software vulnerability to compromise high-value sites, while companies focus on security flaws.
The one thing that helps ensure your IoT data is secure
At the 2015 HTCIA/ISSA Summit, Malcolm Harkins, vice president and former chief security and privacy officer for Intel, advised, “The biggest vulnerability we face today and in the future is the misperception of risk. A perfect storm of risk has been brewing for decades and has hit with full force the past few years. It has moved from a backroom issue to the boardroom and many have not been prepared. Many more still aren’t prepared.”
By taking a collaborative approach across the enterprise and industry, companies can pull together resources, expertise, and collective innovation to lock down the security of their infrastructure – no matter how tight their security permissions, monitoring, and detection capabilities are now. They key is clearly acknowledge who their attackers are, which risks are on the horizon, and how hack attempts on other businesses can affect them later on.
For more insight into cyber-security and the IoT, check out the infographic below:on devices and appliances, according to a recent report from Secunia, a vulnerability management firm.