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Connecting devices, securely

date: 5 February 2014
reading time: 2 min

So many of the announcements at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas were about the connected everything, from Samsung’s announcement about it’s Smart Home Hub, to individual enabled products like the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker that can be controlled  remotely using a smartphone, or the pet collar that sends information directly to the vet.

So many of the announcements at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas were about the connected everything, from Samsung’s announcement about it’s Smart Home Hub, to individual enabled products like the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker.


The cooker can be controlled  remotely using a smartphone, or the pet collar that sends information directly to the vet. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication seemed to be at the very heart of the show and judging from the reception these gadgets received, the ability to connect just about anything to the internet has captured the imagination of businesses and consumers alike.

Before we get carried away with the possibilities that connected devices could offer us, let’s take a step back and a bit of a reality check. While M2M communications, or the internet of things, will clearly make life easier for us, cutting time and giving us greater control, this burgeoning sector also brings its own challenges, and one of those is security.

Let me explain. As more objects become IP-enabled, the pool of things that can be recruited into botnets or other platforms used for distributed attacks grows too. Distributing attacks via unmanned smart objects helps make it more difficult to trace the source, and consequently smart objects are a softer target for cyber criminals.  This is not something you hear much about and although it wasn’t really highlighted at CES, it is a valid concern.

Cisco predicts that by the end of the decade, 1 trillion objects could be connected to the Internet, generating anywhere between $1.2 trillion and $14.4 trillion in revenue. Analysts believe that 2014 will see the industry take a big step towards making this prediction a reality. However, I fear that this growth is likely to be inhibited if robust security and privacy capabilities are not included in the devices and the networks they use to communicate.

What do you think?

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