Is Connectivity Worth Security?

Is Connectivity Worth Security?

Brendyn Burkitt, Staff Columnist

We have created a world of invention. Our diverse experiences have birthed diverse innovation. Some of our technology is interrelated, but most of our advancements are fundamentally isolated. Yet, ironically, further inventing is attempting to bridge these divides.

Why get in a cold car in the morning? After the doorbell rings, why get up to check the door? Why go through the trouble of typing a question into a search bar? All these situations are inherently different but are united under the topic of inconvenience: the seconds wasted or spent in discomfort. Imagine a world where we didn’t have to suffer through these issues. The Internet of things (IoT) is the solution to most insignificant problems plaguing human existence and so much more.

The IoT encompasses all things connected to the internet, but more recently the term has specifically described devices that interact with each other; the IoT allows communication between multiple technologies. The main medium for communication between these devices is the internet. Information is collected on one device and then transported and translated through the Cloud onto another.

These technological relationships could be as complex as a heart monitor to an emergency service dispatcher or a doorbell to a phone. Whatever the case may be, the IoT is a shared platform. Ultimately, the IoT is the pursuit of a more interconnected world.

The IoT is reinventing the car by enabling its connection to various other devices. With the IoT, car owners can operate their cars remotely—by, for example, preheating the car before they get in it. In the future, cars might even be able to book their own service appointments when a problem arises.

Moreover, the prospect of an IoT-connected car allows manufacturers to transform car ownership. Previously, manufacturers have had almost no relationship with buyers. With connected cars. Manufacturers could track drivers’ data and offer promotions or upgrades, depending on perceived customer needs.

In the healthcare industry, IoT-based monitoring equips healthcare providers with a massive advantage. Doctors, nurses, and orderlies often need to know the exact location of equipment to assist patients, and they may not have the time to scour the hospital. If an IoT sensor were added to a support device such as a wheelchair, it could be quickly tracked from an asset-monitoring application.

Still, IoT is a developing technology and has some fundamental issues and flaws within its system. The most prevalent is the question of its security. Given that the IoT is attaching everything to the Cloud, all that technology is open to attack. If someone were to hack into a system through a singular electronic device, they potentially could have access to thousands of devices and connect their device to all of them. The more devices an individual connects the IoT, the greater their individual security risk; a hacker could gain access to your phone and then unlock all of the doors in your home.

Let’s look at something seemingly innocuous like Smart Appliances. One would think that they pose absolutely no threat to your personal information. But in reality, if one device is compromised, all devices are compromised. Even something like a smart fridge or washing machine could offer a criminal access to your other appliances. It is estimated that nearly 40% of smart devices globally have been used for some type of attack.

With the help the IoT provides and the risks it poses, is the IoT a step forward? Yes, I think, but humanity must take that step cautiously. Privacy and security have become increasingly large issues in the twenty-first century. If the IoT is to be universally applied, data breaches cannot be an issue. We should not readily adapt IoT technology until we can confirm its safety.

However, that is easier said than done. With the web of technology that the IoT connects, every system would have to be secure: a car, phone, computer, remote, etc. To some extent, I wonder if some things are not worth connecting. Maybe we can live with small inconveniences for the sake of our security.