Has the Internet of Things become the 'Internet of Threats'?

Cyber security seems to be on everybody's lips at the moment. With large-scale cyber-attacks on the rise, despite increased awareness of the issue, it is pertinent to be mindful of a very important point. As cybersecurity evolves and changes, so do the things we typically associate with it.

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Computers, smartphones and other devices are no longer the main potential access point for a cyber attacker. The possible access points are now provided by our devices still, but also in our homes and our streets. Cities all over the world are embracing the internet of things (IoT). Large scale connected infrastructure projects and smart cities are now entirely possible. The opportunities that such projects bring are immense, but there is a down side. It opens up a whole new world of access points for potential attack. It only takes one weak link in the chain to compromise an entire network.

And so, the internet of things has created the internet of threats. We are likely to see a marked rise in attacks, both on individuals and organisations, on the internet of things. This is simply because, as the use of IoT devices penetrates further into industry, use and deployment of devices becomes harder to control - meaning that security threats increase at the same time. The issue is further compounded by the fact that employees' personal IoT devices are increasingly being carried across physical boundaries of security.

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Many IoT devices are designed primarily with usability and affordability in mind, far more than security. As the number of smart devices grows, so too will the number of legacy devices. Such devices will remain unpatched and in a constant state of vulnerability. A key crossover threat is the fact that so many people keep private files on laptops or PCs, which share the home network with smart devices

Demand will continue to rise for security skills. The global shortage of cyber security skills in the workplace makes organisations sitting targets for hackers. As companies recognise that their current security strategies are insufficient, demand for expertise will rise further still.

Internal training must continue to accelerate as companies look to in-source security. A study conducted by job site Indeed found that the UK advertises the third highest number, globally, of cyber security roles. The gap between employer demand for cyber security professionals and the number with the necessary expertise to fill such roles is the second highest in the world.

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This currently leaves the UK with the largest skills gap of any country in the world, other than Israel. Alarmingly, the UK skills gap in cyber security is growing fast too - by 5% in the last two years. With employer demand outstripping candidate interest by more than three times, it shows the scale of the problem. In stark contrast, Ireland - boosted by its buoyant tech sector - has reduced its skill gap by 14%.

All in all, it is easy to see how the internet of things has created its own internet of threats. Perhaps the biggest threat of all in the UK is the skills gap that means there is a shortage of the expertise needed to deal with such threats.


This article was written by Rob Jan-Janin, IT Security Recruitment Consultant at Pertemps.

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