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The Trouble with the Internet of Things

There’s no doubt that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a great resource. Data gathered through the IoT has incredible potential for improving user experience and building a better city. In London, we have already seen how the IoT has been used to significantly improve public transport by managing disrupted schedules, offering personalized news, displaying common travel mapping, and making future travel needs clear.

The IoT creates endless streams of data, and the possibilities for harnessing that data are endless. However, it does not come without its problems. In fact, there are three major challenges concerning the IoT that we cannot ignore:

  • Ubiquitous data collection.
  • Potential for unexpected uses of consumer data.
  • Heightened security risks.

Of course, these are not impossible problems to overcome. To improve security, we can enhance privacy, reduce the amount of data collected by IoT devices, and increase transparency in the process. Additionally, providing consumers with a choice to opt-out of data collection can help users feel more secure.

Most importantly, we can consider all of these issues from the start of the IoT infrastructure: while building hardware.

Creating Secure Hardware for the Internet of Things

When building hardware for the IoT, there are numerous ways we can work to create a more secure network. According to Toptal’s post on security issues in the IoT, IoT hardware developers can focus on five important areas in order to improve security for their systems:

  • Emphasize security from day one. The IoT is still an emerging technology that is relatively immature. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you do your research and remain up-to-date if you are planning to develop your own IoT infrastructure or make use of existing data.
  • Lifecycle, future-proofing, updates. Many companies overlook long-term support in the race to release new products as quickly as possible. Updating old devices does not often make financial sense, so we end up with millions of insecure computers and mobile devices that are simply discarded. Imagine how much more problematic this will become with smaller IoT devices that are a fraction of the cost.
  • Access control and device authentication. Since the IoT does not deal with traditional connected devices, access control and device authentication are often overlooked. No one wants to compromise user experience, and lack of processing power is a common problem as well. However, we must come up with ways to get around these issues.
  • Know your enemy. Again, do your research before diving into the IoT. It is extremely important to study potential threats and attackers before trying to tackle IoT security. In order to reduce data risk, you must keep as much personal data from IoT devices as possible, properly secure necessary data transfers, and so on. You need to study the threat before you can adequately prepare.
  • Prepare for security breaches. It is likely that security breaches will happen, no matter how well you prepare. If a breach does occur, you must be prepared to secure as much data as possible and render compromised data useless without destroying your IoT infrastructure.

As the IoT continues to develop, we will be forced to confront what this explosion of data means for consumers, business, and cities like London. But we can be sure that we must focus on security from the very beginning of building hardware, or face a huge crisis down the line.