IoT - Pandemics, Opportunities And Massive Data Risks

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an electronic system, which is develoong at ever-increasing pace since it began in 2000, of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines that each have unique identifiers. This process transfers very large amounts of data over a network without requiring human or computer interaction and this data is difficult to process using traditional management tools. 

As part of the development  Internet of Things (IoT) massive amounts of unstructured machine data will be inevitably created. The experst at McKinsey estimates that by 2025, the world will own 50 billion networked devices, a 400 per cent increase on 2010, and creating $11 trillion in economic value. 

While this proliferation of networked technology over the last 20 years has created a myriad of opportunities for businesses, governments and developers to explore it has created new challenges to overcome.

Right now, the IoT is very little use in combating the COVID-19  epidemic although it probably can be used to prevent future pandemics. The consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, have outlined a future healthcare scenario  defined by a network of IoT  sensors placed throughout the world that would be used to monitor individuals for infections, acting as an early detection system that would reduce uncertainty and provide governments with reliable data to quickly act on and stop the spread. 

What Is The IoT?
Put simply, IoT is a system of physical objects that can be discovered, monitored, controlled, or interacted with by electronic devices that communicate over various networking interfaces and eventually can be connected to the wider Internet. The IoT landscape ranges from smart tags to sensing and monitoring wearable devices and to more complex objects such as appliances, machines, and cars. These smart objects constitute the building blocks of smart environments such as smart homes, buildings, factories, and cities.

What Are The Risks?
With the wide scale of IoT systems, the security and cyber-threats are magnified, by virtue of the sheer size of the ‘attack surface’ and number of potential entry points. According to recent data, 26.66 billion IoT devices were active in 2019 and 127 new devices are being connected to the Internet every second. 

The key challenge is the management and protection of all the data that IoT captures and uses, there are a number of ways to address this for developers of devices, users and insurance providers.

A primary concern, as with most cyber-risks, is the loss or compromise of data, especially customer and personal data. As a result, privacy should be a crucial component of IoT, especially with regards to data transmission. In one incident, a casino had high profile customer data stolen via the WiFi connected temperature monitor in their smart aquarium. As supply chains and business processes become more reliant on networked devices, businesses are more at risk of attack. Significant business interruption, through devices being taken offline by a hack can result in a significant loss in revenue, or even worse, reputation and trust.

An emerging risk of IoT is that of cyber-physical, take the example of a medical devices such as pacemakers, self-driving cars or expensive industrial processes controlled by a connected device. A malicious hack of these devices, taking control of these activities could lead to costly and potentially dangerous physical damage or accidents.

Stuxnet was one of the first instances of a computer worm destroying real-world devices, as opposed to just hacking them to perform software damage. 

Stuxnet targeted programmable logic controllers (PLCs) used to control uranium centrifuges (machines used to isolate isotopes of uranium) and reprogrammed them to perform varying cycles that result in the centrifuges disintegrating. Although Stuxnet was not a typical IoT attack because it relied on PLCs to be connected to a Windows machine, it represents a clear example of the damages caused by hacking mission-critical devices.

How To Reduce & Alleviate The Risks
Measures users can take to limit risk (and indeed liability in the event of a cyber-incident) include: considering security requirements since the initial stage of system design; using strong passwords and security keys, updated regularly; monitoring devices and systems to detect and swiftly response to security events; continuously updating security of devices with the download of patches from the manufacturers.

Insurers have a crucial role in mitigating these risks through varying degrees of cover which address risks including compromised networks, business interruption of IoT (if they are taken offline) and the theft of data.

Conclusion
It is clear that the IoT is becoming increasingly central to both our way of life and how businesses and infrastructure operates. As the opportunities for innovation grow, it is paramount that we remain conscious of the risks at play and how we mitigate these. The combination of IoT and 5G will transform society for the better, but that there are a lot of security risks to consumers and businesses that can't be left unchecked.

IoTForAll:       ITProportal:    ITProPortal:        Motley Fool:       BC Courier

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