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
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
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"

 
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
SOC 2s & Third-Party Assessments: How to Prevent Them from Being Used in a Data Breach Lawsuit
Beth Burgin Waller, Chair, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice , Woods Rogers PLC,  12/5/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-4095
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-10
IBM Cloud Pak System 2.3 is vulnerable to cross-site request forgery which could allow an attacker to execute malicious and unauthorized actions transmitted from a user that the website trusts. IBM X-Force ID: 158015.
CVE-2019-4244
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-10
IBM SmartCloud Analytics 1.3.1 through 1.3.5 could allow a remote attacker to gain unauthorized information and unrestricted control over Zookeeper installations due to missing authentication. IBM X-Force ID: 159518.
CVE-2019-4521
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-10
Platform System Manager in IBM Cloud Pak System 2.3 is potentially vulnerable to CVS Injection. A remote attacker could execute arbitrary commands on the system, caused by improper validation of csv file contents. IBM X-Force ID: 165179.
CVE-2019-4663
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-10
IBM WebSphere Application Server - Liberty is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 171245...
CVE-2019-19251
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-10
The Last.fm desktop app (Last.fm Scrobbler) through 2.1.39 on macOS makes HTTP requests that include an API key without the use of SSL/TLS. Although there is an Enable SSL option, it is disabled by default, and cleartext requests are made as soon as the app starts.