Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

1/11/2018
02:00 PM
Ryan Barrett
Ryan Barrett
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

Privacy: The Dark Side of the Internet of Things

Before letting an IoT device into your business or home, consider what data is being collected and where it is going.

There's a lot of buzz about the Internet of Things (IoT), but people aren't quite sure what to think of it. Back in fall 2016, there was a big attack on an Internet service provider in which a bunch of IoT devices became a botnet and made much of the Internet unavailable. It was a big moment that made people question the security of IoT. And although security risks are getting the headlines right now, and should certainly be considered, the bigger risk with IoT is privacy.

It is going to be so cheap and so easy for manufacturers to put Wi-Fi-connected chips into practically every device we use in our homes and businesses that IoT will become hard to avoid. Combine low costs with the incentives that companies have to collect data on user behavior, and things start to feel creepy. For example, imagine your oven, your refrigerator, or your microwave has data-collecting chips in it, purporting to provide a benefit to you if the device is connected to the Internet (your incentive). The cost is next to nothing for the manufacturer to collect the usage data, from the time of day you use it to how long you use it or what's being prepared, and combine it with information you may have voluntarily provided when you signed up, such as what city you live in and your household income. People aren't going to take notice of this until something bad happens — and I predict that it will.

While these connected devices are collecting all this data without you knowing it, or how it's being used, most people are thinking about features and colors. People aren't thinking about the privacy component, and that's a problem.

The Risk to Business
The potential risk is even greater for businesses that bring IoT devices into their companies. Consumers might get creeped out to think about their personal devices monitoring them and listening to their conversations, but businesses aren't really thinking about the risks from this perspective. Before deploying connected devices within your organization, pause and think about what kind of data is being collected and where it is going. For businesses that value their privacy, this can be a real liability. 

The owners of the corner coffee shop are purchasing home-security-grade devices to better monitor and protect their business. Almost instantly, the system is connected to their Wi-Fi network. But the business owners aren't thinking about the potential ramifications should they lose control over that device, if it isn't secure. If the device is hacked, cybercriminals can monitor customer traffic and flow, and even zoom in on credit card numbers if the camera is near the cash register.

The risk doesn't end with small businesses. From the midsize perspective, these businesses are utilizing things such as smart TVs. Often smart TVs are connected to a Wi-Fi network to display analytics and statistics, but you'd be surprised at how often those TVs are connecting back to their manufacturers to gather advertising information and your usage statistics. Some of the new TVs have webcams on them with incorporated microphones. And then there are cameras in the lobby. All this private business data about when and where people are coming and going and what they are doing is being recorded in the cloud, protected only by a password.

Think First
I am not saying that you shouldn't let IoT devices into your home or business. I'm point is that people need to think about a few things first before they invite these devices into their lives, and make a conscious, risk-aware decision.

Weigh the benefits against the risks when it comes to purchasing Internet-connected devices. Is the risk worth it if the data got into the wrong hands? If the data is stored in the cloud, make sure you are using long and strong passphrases and enable two-factor authentication everywhere you can. Keep the devices secure, keep their software updated, and protect the data they produce (if you can).

Lastly, be aware of what information you are giving away, by reading the privacy policies of the manufacturers of the IoT device. If they are collecting your data, they legally have to disclose it.

The prospects of IoT are undeniably vast. No one knows where the industry is going to go or what is going to happen. My advice? Venture into this exciting new world with eyes wide open.

Related Content:

Ryan Barrett, VP of Security and Privacy at Intermedia, has more than a decade of experience in data security and IT leadership. Prior to Intermedia, Barrett has been integral in security with enterprises such as Qualys and WebEx, where he helped build out the original ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
ArlenWilliams
50%
50%
ArlenWilliams,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/12/2018 | 12:55:58 PM
What if?
What if violating our privacy were one of the primary reasons for the IOT in the first place?

Whose technology was the Internet in the first place?

Why would we think they ever let go of it?

"#DOD #USIC #NSA #DIA #CIA #DOJ #MashUp"

 
The Problem with Proprietary Testing: NSS Labs vs. CrowdStrike
Brian Monkman, Executive Director at NetSecOPEN,  7/19/2019
RDP Bug Takes New Approach to Host Compromise
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/18/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-14248
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-24
In libnasm.a in Netwide Assembler (NASM) 2.14.xx, asm/pragma.c allows a NULL pointer dereference in process_pragma, search_pragma_list, and nasm_set_limit when "%pragma limit" is mishandled.
CVE-2019-14249
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-24
dwarf_elf_load_headers.c in libdwarf before 2019-07-05 allows attackers to cause a denial of service (division by zero) via an ELF file with a zero-size section group (SHT_GROUP), as demonstrated by dwarfdump.
CVE-2019-14250
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-24
An issue was discovered in GNU libiberty, as distributed in GNU Binutils 2.32. simple_object_elf_match in simple-object-elf.c does not check for a zero shstrndx value, leading to an integer overflow and resultant heap-based buffer overflow.
CVE-2019-14247
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-24
The scan() function in mad.c in mpg321 0.3.2 allows remote attackers to trigger an out-of-bounds write via a zero bitrate in an MP3 file.
CVE-2019-2873
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-23
Vulnerability in the Oracle VM VirtualBox component of Oracle Virtualization (subcomponent: Core). Supported versions that are affected are Prior to 5.2.32 and prior to 6.0.10. Easily exploitable vulnerability allows low privileged attacker with logon to the infrastructure where Oracle VM VirtualBox...