By Nicky Campbell and Peter FaganPostedMay 10, 2018 02:04:49More than 50 million people visit the internet every day, and their devices are increasingly vulnerable to hacking.
But a major change is looming over the internet as the world moves into an era of cyberspace, where security and privacy are increasingly at the heart of everyday life.
While the internet has always been about the flow of information, it has become increasingly vulnerable as it becomes a portal to the internet of things, or IoT, with increasingly complex devices, data and connections that make it harder for a hacker to compromise a device.
“We’ve had an increase in the number of devices that are connected to the Internet and to the cloud,” said Paul Van Den Bosch, CEO of the Open Networking Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation that supports the development of the open internet.
“Now, we’ve got more connected devices that we can control and monitor, and we’re getting more connected to people.”
In fact, as more of the world gets connected to more devices and more of its citizens get connected to computers and mobile phones, there’s a clear need to create a new paradigm around how devices and internet services are governed.
“In the IoT world, the security and security of the IoT devices are at the core of everything,” said Chris Boyd, a senior software engineer at the security firm Kaspersky Lab.
“If you’re building a system that can monitor IoT devices, then you’re really looking at the IoT as a whole and how it can be attacked, and it’s a challenge to manage IoT security.”
There are currently around 1.3 billion connected devices on the planet, with the average connected device being between five and 10 metres long, with a range of up to 5km.
The average connected household in the UK has around 250 devices connected, according to the UK Government.
“With IoT, it’s the ability to control IoT devices that is at the crux,” said Boyd.
“We’ve seen devices that have a remote control, an IoT remote control.”
This creates a problem, he said, because the IoT is connected to all sorts of different devices and there’s an increasing amount of overlap between devices.
“You can’t just say, ‘Okay, if you connect one device to the other, it becomes secure, but if you connected two devices to the same device, it could be used by someone else’,” he said.
That’s where open source comes in, which allows people to create new IoT devices using open standards and tools that help secure devices.
Open source software is open source software that is not proprietary.
For example, there are open standards for connecting a smartphone to a computer, so the smartphone can control the computer remotely.
Another example is connecting a camera to a camera and sending a video feed to the computer.
“Open source is enabling people to have devices that don’t necessarily need to be proprietary, that can be used with any device that has internet connectivity,” Boyd said.
In fact there are devices in use around the world that use Open Source technology, like the Google Home, which uses a Raspberry Pi to control the smart home.
“It’s a really interesting space that’s been developing,” Boyd added.
“There’s this big space of open source IoT devices out there that people are building, and people are really pushing open source, and I think it’s really exciting.”
While open source has helped to improve security and create a better open internet, Boyd said the new trend is taking some getting used to.
“There’s a lot of hype around security, and security is about making sure that if you are building something insecure, that you can fix it, and that there are no vulnerabilities,” he said .
“The reality is that you need to look at it in the context of your business and your users.”
Security concerns have also been a challenge for IoT manufacturers, who are increasingly relying on proprietary software that has been designed with security in mind.
The Open Network Security Foundation (ONSF), a non commercial organisation that has a goal of providing solutions that protect IoT devices from hackers and malicious actors, recently released a report, The IoT Is Not Secure: How to Protect IoT Devices From Hackers and Spammers.
“The majority of IoT devices use proprietary open source protocols and operating systems,” the report said.
“They use operating systems that are designed to protect from malware, such as Java and OpenSSL, but those operating systems have vulnerabilities that can allow attackers to compromise the device.”
Security in IoT has come a long way, but there’s still a long ways to go.
“Security is a critical component of any device,” said David Sibbald, CEO and co-founder of the internet security firm Securi.
“And there’s no denying that there’s been some improvements, but we still need to do a lot more.”
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