Securing the Internet of Things: is the web already breaking up?

Few could argue that the NSA, GCHQ and other State-involved snooping revelations haven’t hurt peoples’ perception of how safe and private their data is online.

However, people are perhaps used to boundaries being pushed publicly by, for example, the near constant furore over Facebook’s ongoing user agreement changes or acquisitions.

Do people care enough about privacy to change their habits? Look at the number of people and the amount of activity that is happening online right now.

The Internet of Things will mean that even more of our lives will be played out online. Business Insider reported on April 19th that the number of devices connected to the internet will reach nine billion by 2018, from 1.9 billion today.

>See also: Next big thing: Preparing for the Internet of Things in the enterprise

That represents a tidal wave. Unstoppable. Privacy concerns will be washed away by the sheer necessity of the internet to our existence.

But that may be hasty. When one thinks about the sheer power of the State in terms of promoting intervention, it is wise to remember that this kind of power can be directed in different ways.

Vladimir Putin hints in a Guardian article that, to protect Russian security interests, the idea of developing a separate internet for Russia might be an option. The concept of the World Wide Web would be thus undermined – and if Russia were to do such a thing, other nations would follow.

So individuals may have options that further affect their privacy in the perhaps-not-so-distant future. At the same time, recognising that they are not going to be using the web less in future, they need others to intervene on their behalf as well.

The organisations that provide people’s banking services, online purchases and other vital applications that they need to get things done, privately and professionally, have a duty to place their security front and centre of customer service.

Businesses should be seriously thinking about who is connecting to their services, why and where from. Does this fit with known behaviour? Is there evidence of online fraud or suspicious activity?

Understanding more about the user, and applying intelligent security policies as a result, will be everything for companies to not break the trust that exists between themselves and their customers. With the Internet of Things, it’s all very well knowing what the security threats are, but by adding context businesses can prepare and deal with attacks far more effectively.

It’s important to ask which application (or indeed, appliance) a threat could come from. Where will it go? To which users? What sort of content could the threat be transmitted with? What is its possible deployment environment?

>See also: 4 things that will happen in the Internet of Things space

With each threat potentially targeting a different industry sector, business or even data within a business, it’s hard to know where to start with putting up defences.

However, understanding the context of where data is coming from and what it is looking for – alongside information such as the location and type of device being used – is helping give businesses a full picture of the threats they could be facing.

It has been said that the Internet of Things will result in 50 billion devices being connected to the internet by 2020. Many of these will have little impact on the enterprise – fridges and bathroom scales, for example – but a lot will.

Workers will be using more devices to get their work done and they will expect their organisation to support their chosen devices.

Except that isn’t a vision of 2020; it’s an issue businesses are facing now and they must explore and understand the security threats that accompany it.


Sourced from Nick Bowman, F5 Networks

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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