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Examining the Biggest Threats to the Consumer IoT

The Internet of Things is taking off with mainstream consumers and enterprise alike. It's gone from just over 15 billion IoT-connected devices in 2015 to an expected 30.7 by 2020 – and recent estimates range as high as 75.4 billion connected devices by 2025. Any way you look at it, the IoT is being embraced by consumers on an unprecedented level – but it's not without its faults. Consumers still need to be aware of some very serious threats and risks faced when using the IoT in its infancy.

In-Dash WiFi

An WiFi system embedded into the dashboard of your vehicle seems like a good idea at first. It can be used to support GPS devices by keeping them updated in real-time, and the newer in-vehicle WiFi systems can connect with modern smartphones for even more functionality. But this poses a serious security risk that the average consumer just doesn't think about.

While in-dash WiFi represents a huge leap forward for the technology, it doesn't necessarily offer any more in the way of security or protection. As such, these mobile WiFi systems are prone to the exact same vulnerabilities seen in other WiFi hotspots and connections. An outside hacker can easily compromise the system and access the driver's personal data – including credit card information and more.

Wearable Devices

The dawn of wearable devices is a huge breakthrough. From personal fitness trackers that fit comfortably on the wrist to eyeglasses that can record and even broadcast video in real-time, it's an exciting time to be alive. Unfortunately, these highly innovative devices aren't spared from hackers, either.

Early versions of Google Glass, for example, were hacked all the way back in 2014. The exploit allowed the hacker to view and hear the wearer's surroundings – all without their knowledge. While this specific issue was patched, it's safe to assume that the same issues will affect similar products in the future.

The End User

Perhaps the biggest threat to consumer IoT is the end user – the actual consumer. With the exception of the tech-savvy minority, most consumers are still unaware of the full capabilities of the current technology in their home. For example, recent research unveiled that most consumers don't know how to modify the default security settings of their smart appliances. By sticking with the default, factory settings, they're actually making it easier for hackers to invade their home and steal their data.

Unfortunately, the introduction of multiple systems – WiFi, Bluetooth, and more – make it even more difficult to achieve personal IT security in the 21st century. While these technologies all have vulnerabilities of their own, they may be affected by other issues when used together – all while leaving the consumer completely unaware of the risk.

The manufacturers can only do so much to protect consumers. Although these next-gen devices often come with detailed user guides and instruction booklets, they're often glossed over or outright ignored. It ultimately comes down to the consumer, their willingness to learn the nuances of IoT security and their dedication to fighting off hackers now and in the future.


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