Internet of Risks
The Internet of Things giveth, and the Internet of Things taketh away. Not that this is unexpected. For every new device that gets hooked up to that great, all-reaching cyber squid, for every thermostat or refrigerator or porcelain throne that you might fear will one day go full on HAL 9000, there is a new cavalcade of potential vulnerabilities—a host of weaknesses in a system (still with nascent cybersecurity at best) that threaten your personal information.
As the IoT is still a relatively new phenomenon, by and large we don’t yet have the best handle on the issue of its security. Our inexperience and ignorance is, sadly, what makes this such a tempting realm for cyber criminals to invade. Nowhere is this more evident (and perhaps critical) than in business. Beyond fridges and Fitbits, many businesses incorporate smart technology into their daily workflow processes (such as tracking packages). A great number of these have now come out and reported enduring a security breach that compromised their insecure networks, resulting in many cases in actual revenue loss. Forty-eight percent of the 400 IT executives surveyed by strategy consulting firm Altman Vilandrie and Company responded as such. For these companies, all of which are IoT users, the total costs could vary from over half a million to more than $20 million (depending on the company’s size).
Key to this survey are the results. Not surprisingly, those who affirmed a breach in the survey were less likely to have invested adequately in protecting and maintaining their security infrastructure. The other 52%, who did not experience a breach, had seen significantly more investment in this area. The correlation is apparent. When concern over who controls your connected devices and who can access your data drives investment, benefits are more likely to follow. And yet, “IoT security has been somewhat under the radar, even for some companies that have a lot to lose through a breach,” says Altman director, Stefan Bewley.
All told, it is estimated that criminal data breaches will cost businesses $8 trillion over the next 5 years. Hardest hit will be small and medium-size enterprises, whose annual cybersecurity budget is generally under $4,000. What’s more, as we’ve recently seen from WannaCry, cyber crime doesn’t only threaten data and wallets, but can now put lives at risk.
The IoT has become a party of daily life for many businesses. Short of sufficient maintenance and upgrades, however, company systems will be an easy target, especially through the reticules of unprotected smart devices.