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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Internet of Things revolution highlights cybersecurity risks

Just a few years ago, the only way to experience all that the Internet had to offer was to use a computer. As technology advances and the Internet becomes an integral part of everyday life, more and more devices are being set up with the ability to go online. 

This revolution of Internet-connected devices is called the Internet of Things, or IoT. Everything from a refrigerator that can order food online to toasters that can post toast on Instagram are now all possible with IoT. In fact, Gartner estimates that there will be 26 billion IoT devices by 2020.

While this is great news for people who love to stay connected, this increase in the number of Internet-driven devices is also leading to more cybersecurity risks. 

Hackers can do more than you think
There are a lot of movies out there that completely misrepresent what hackers can do. Although Hollywood would like you to believe hacking is an action-intensive activity involving a lot of keyboard-mashing, it's actually just a lot of reading and knowing how to spot vulnerabilities in a network. 

That being said, the IoT revolution has allowed hackers to enter a world that looks a lot more like a James Bond movie than reality. 

Uconnect, an Internet-based, hands-free communication system found in newer Chrysler cars, had a serious vulnerability hidden within its code. Two hackers named Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek discovered that if they exploited this vulnerability in just the right way, they could literally control a car from miles away. 

"Hackers can control smart cars if they know what they're doing."

This Wired article by Andy Greenberg shows the ease at which hackers can control smart cars if they know what they're doing. All a hacker needs is the car's IP address and enough free time and knowledge to rewrite some firmware in a chip found in the car's head unit.

After the hacker does this, he or she can control functions as innocuous as the car's climate control and radio to the extremely important ones like acceleration. If the car is going at a slow enough speed, they can even cut your brakes. 

Hackers can control your car and force you into an accident. A hacker can now cause a car crash with his computer.

IoT devices seriously at risk
Although Miller and Valasek are working with Chrysler to patch this vulnerability, the fact still remains that the IoT is wide open to cybercriminals. The 2014 Internet of Things State of the Union Study conducted by HP discovered that IoT devices are ripe for the taking by hackers. 

The report found that 70 percent of IoT devices have a vulnerability of some sort that could lead to a cyberattack. This statistic would be troubling enough, however, the study also found that 90 percent of these devices collected at least one piece of personal information.

What this means is that not only are a vast majority of IoT devices vulnerable to a cyberattack, but there's also an extremely good chance that exploiting these devices will lead to some sort of valuable personal information. 

What can you do?
Aside from taking basic online security precautions, the only way to stop exploitation of IoT devices is to become part of the solution. The cybersecurity industry is seriously understaffed at the moment, with Peninsula Press estimating that there are more than 209,000 security jobs waiting to be filled

But stopping cybercriminals is going to take more than basic computer training. Cybersecurity is a rewarding field, but it requires a good deal of technical know-how. In fact, Burning Glass Technologies found that cybersecurity positions require certifications more than any other IT job, with 35 percent of these jobs needing a certification as opposed to the 23 percent of the entire IT industry. 

Therefore, anyone wishing to keep the IoT safe should look into computer training courses in cybersecurity through New Horizons. Their list of online computer training classes can get you the certification you need to help in the fight against cybercrime. 

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