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Is your smart device inviting hackers into your life?

Luana PASCU

July 13, 2016

Is your smart device inviting hackers into your life?

The recent hype around IoT and the possibility of connecting literally any device to the Internet has thrilled consumers and opened up manufacturers to a new vertical for their latest product capabilities. But could these devices be courting disaster?

Although IoT technology has been widely embraced by consumers and enterprises due to its versatility, the focus has been more on the opportunities it offers than on a clear strategy to secure data and privacy. This turns connected devices into an easy target for malware and DDoS attacks.

We love linking our devices to everything around us, giving away critical private information like bank details, name and address, social security numbers forgetting that hackers could be right around the corner waiting for a free invite into our lives. It”s not so much the lack of security mechanisms, but of cyber security training for employees, that puts users first in the line of fire for ransomware attacks. Is that free check-in worth your email address?

As businesses have understood the amazing value IoT has to offer, so have hackers, who are smarter and more connected than your average criminal. Since IoT technology has been inserted into multiple segments, including healthcare and automobile industries, these seem to be most popular on the hacker radar.

“The scenario is not too far-fetched; in fact, it is much more deadly. Many medical devices, such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, and other medication dispersion systems are internet or Bluetooth enabled. Ransomware could utilize that open connection to infect the IoT device,” says a report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology.

Only last month, MEDJACK.2, a new strain of malware, infected medical devices that were using outdated software. Medical records are the easiest way to make fast money because their price keeps going up on the dark web, ranging from $20 to $40 per record.

While hospitals are top targets, connected cars are also on the list due to the valuable information they keep. Car cloning, scanner boxes to clone smart keys, and remote hacking are now a reality, while vehicle ransomware could follow sooner than you might think.

“When the victim attempts to use their vehicle for work or travel, the console display could provide them the ransom note and a method of paying ransom, such as via SMS message,” the report said.

Security experts believe there are ways of securing IoT technology to protect them against security breaches. While some have developed software security solutions for the smart home, it is important that manufacturers start implementing end-point security and perform regular audit of network performance.

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