Internet of Things, or IoT devices, already represent a mature technological industry. These connected devices are commonplace in homes and offices alike. In a perfect world, they make life easier, and the products supported by IoT more useful.
Unfortunately, IoT devices can be vulnerable to data leaks, cyberattacks and hackers. Connected devices will be an area of concern for 2021, and their threat potential is almost guaranteed to get worse.
The security issues common to IoT devices stem from rapid growing demand for smart devices. The number of products connected to the internet surpassed the number of people on the planet somewhere between 2008 and 2010 and is expected to exceed 75 billion by 2025.
The hacking risk isn’t just a question of having more devices so much as having a higher concentration of devices. At the beginning of 2020, U.S. households had an estimated 11 internet-connected devices per household. The number is expected to explode with the rollout of higher-speed wireless technologies like 5G in addition to the upward trend fueled by people working and attending school remotely during Covid-19 pandemic.
More internet-connected devices means a bigger attackable surface, and having a higher concentration of IoT devices in a household or office means more points of entry for hackers.
Case in point: an unsecured internet-connected coffee machine was successfully infected by ransomware in September 2020. While security vulnerabilities in IoT devices are commonplace, infection by relatively sophisticated malware represents a potentially massive evolutionary leap and could very well become the norm in 2021.
As IoT devices become more numerous and more interoperable, the large-scale cyberattacks on businesses, local governments and agencies could migrate to home networks, effectively locking residents out of their homes and appliances and exfiltrating their data.
The issue is not limited to home and office environments, either. IoT is expanding in the medical, industrial, and military fields, with expected annual growth at 21%, 21.3%, and 6% respectively. The possible benefits from internet-enabled applications to any of these fields are enormous, but the increased risk can’t be overlooked.
Medical and industrial infrastructures have been constant targets of ransomware and cyberespionage in 2020. With the onlining of more and more connected devices, and with that points of entry for hackers, makes an upward curve in IoT-related hacks seem likely.