IoT devices could be asbestos of the future

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The rise of connected devices doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon and while there are currently around 7bn IoT devices worldwide, experts estimate that this number could be as high as 40bn by 2025.

However, this rapid increase in IoT devices has some worried and cybersecurity expert and chief research officer at F-Secure Mikko Hyppönen explained in an interview on GlobalData's Verdict website that he believes that the proliferation of “stupid” internet connected smart devices could end up being the “IT asbestos of the future”.

When it was first developed, asbestos was a great innovation that looked like a miracle material. It was widely used in construction during the 1960s and 1970s but only later did we learn that it caused cancer.

In much the same way that asbestos needed to be removed from older buildings, IoT devices with poor security could potentially lead to a lot of problems in the future.

Our connected future

Hyppönen explained to GlobalData that we are just in the early stages of our connected future, saying:

“What’s happening right now, around us, I guess would be characterised as IT asbestos. We are currently in the early stages of this revolution, but eventually anything that uses electricity will be online. So this is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Everything will become a computer and right now this seems like an excellent idea, to many of the companies in this business.”

Hyppönen makes an excellent point as smart device manufacturers are so quick to rush their products to market that they often forget to secure them before doing so. For instance, many IoT devices use default passwords which are easily hackable or manufacturers fail to employ encryption to protect the data sent to and from their devices.

Once connectivity becomes cheaper and cheaper, many home appliances such as toasters, which don't necessarily need to be connected to the internet, are getting a smart upgrade in order to better appeal to consumers. In the short run this could be beneficial to those that want to use an app to make toast but what happens years from now when every device in a consumer's home is connected to the internet and vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Before the IoT expands any further, device manufacturers need to ensure they put proper security protections in place or just like asbestos, we could spend years removing them from our homes just to protect ourselves online.

Via Verdict

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.