Internet of Things may cause large-scale Internet disaster, says security technologist

Bruce Schneier, a security technologist, author and the CTO of Resilient Systems, now warns about the outcomes of IoT and how software hacks could get worse.


We've been reading about how Internet of Things will revolutionise the tech world. But it also has a fair share of drawbacks, especially security concerns. Bruce Schneier, a security technologist, author and the CTO of Resilient Systems, now warns about the outcomes of IoT and how software hacks could get worse. "On the Internet of Things, integrity and availability threats are much worse than confidentiality threats," he writes.

These threats will come from three factors, he explains, namely, software control of systems, interconnections between systems, and automatic or autonomous systems.  As more and more things come under software control, they could become vulnerable to attacks. As most of these things would be inexpensive and long-lasting, software patches released may not work, unlike we see in case of smartphone or PCs. He further goes on to explain how the only way to patch a home router is by throwing it and buying another. Now, this has worked with phones too. We can throw a smartphone and easily buy a new one every one or two years. However, would you replace your refrigerator or thermostat every year? Most likely not, as it is replaced at an average of 15 years.

Talking about interconnections, he explains how systems will become interconnected, leading vulnerabilities in one resulting into an attack on another. "Vulnerabilities on one system cascade into other systems, and the result is a vulnerability that no one saw coming and no one bears responsibility for fixing. The Internet of Things will make exploitable vulnerabilities much more common. It’s simple mathematics. If 100 systems are all interacting with each other, that’s about 5,000 interactions and 5,000 potential vulnerabilities resulting from those interactions," he adds.

Finally, our devices are getting autonomous. This also means attacks can take place automatically and ubiquitously. We've already seen Fiat Chrysler recall 1.4 million vehicles to prevent hacking. The report explains how, in future, the governments could face large-scale issues due to IoT. He also adds that governments should in fact play a larger role by 'setting standards, policing compliance, and implementing solutions across companies and networks'.


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