Information Security and the Internet of Things

Technology is advancing at a fast clip, changing our world faster than ever before. “A computer on every desk and in every home” was Bill Gates’ goal in 1977. We have certainly surpassed his vision as we now rely on multiple computers in our homes, in our cars, and even on our bodies as wearable devices to make our lives easier. Companies have maximized the number of devices connected to the company network in the quest for increased productivity and profits. We have entered the age of the Internet of Things where most devices have internet connectivity, enabling us to do more, yet increasing our information security risk.

In 2013, IDC released study results showing that the number of connected devices in 6 years will reach 212 billion. This high number is truly alarming, but more astonishing is considering how to handle the security risks associated with all of these connected devices. The results from IDC’s study should really be a call to arms for companies desiring to keep their information secure in the Internet of Things landscape. Companies must step up security efforts to address the risks introduced as more and more devices connect to the company network.

Just as any valve or piece of equipment attached to a pipe is a possible leak source for the piping system, every device connected to a network is a potential security vulnerability for that network. No longer is it sufficient for upper management to simply talk about information security in order to spread awareness. Although awareness is a critical first step to a robust security program, this first step is truly useless if nothing is done beyond it. Companies need to progress further and invest the necessary resources to ensure that company data is secure. Without proper security measures to handle the increasing number of connected devices, companies may at some point be limited in what they can do, adversely affecting profits.

The Oxford English Dictionary recently included the Internet of Things with the definition as: “A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.” Interestingly enough, the definition is accompanied by: “If one thing can prevent the Internet of Things from transforming the way we live and work, it will be a breakdown in security.”

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