Two new reports from lead author Professor Nick Jennings of Imperial College London and other cybersecurity experts assert that device manufacturers have a larger burden to protect consumers from cybersecurity attacks than the device users themselves.
The report points out that although it’s important for users to be as proactive as possible in that regard, many people don’t know the most effective ways to do so.
It suggests using a safety mark system that acts as a guarantee that device manufacturers are protecting people from hackers and performing updates as needed.
It also brings up how government regulations could be imposed to force manufacturers to bring their cybersecurity practices in line with modern standards.
On the consumer side of things, this report recommends making good cybersecurity practices part of the grade school curriculum. This ensures people have early exposure to the things they need to do to keep themselves as safe as possible from hackers.
The report also mentions how people should keep their devices updated regularly.
Beneficial Devices With a Potential Dark Side
Information in the report clarifies that internet-connected devices have considerable potential for helping society, especially within the elderly and disabled populations.
However, it points out that hackers could take control of medical devices like pacemakers and diabetes management equipment and cause dangerous or fatal consequences.
Also, if a smart home includes lightbulbs or plugs, those could be used to spy on people or cause fires, respectively. Because many intelligent devices for residences detect patterns, cybercriminals could snatch data from some of them and learn when homes are typically unoccupied.
If manufacturers have to comply with these proposed protective measures, there are some industries and products likely to be especially affected. They’re covered in detail below.
1. Medical Devices
The scenario mentioned above, whereby hackers could take control of medical equipment and cause it to malfunction and cause deaths, makes it particularly likely that if such regulations on smart devices exist, they will apply to medical equipment.
If people know such gadgets have a guarantee of safety from the manufacturers, they may be more likely to use them than if the makers did not give that promise.
Also, hospital representatives go through detailed processes when making purchasing decisions for their facilities. If some medical device companies refuse to take responsibility for protecting people from hackers, they’ll have trouble making sales to health facilities.
2. Educational Gadgets
Schools are already using internet-connected devices to do things like track school buses and provide Wi-Fi that lets kids connect to the internet and do their homework in areas that ordinarily lack coverage. Facilities management becomes easier too, primarily because administrators can monitor energy usage or secure the premises while staying off-site.
If teachers make internet-connected devices part of school curriculums, the data collected rises significantly. This makes infiltration of educational tech products particularly attractive to hackers, especially when the data contains personal details like Social Security numbers.
3. Smart Home Equipment
The report mentioned earlier discussed how hackers could break into homes filled with smart equipment and use those high-tech additions to invade privacy or cause risks to life and possessions.
Since many people now secure their homes with smart door locks, hackers are eager to figure out how to trick those gadgets. Even though most have integrated security measures to reduce the likelihood of that happening, some still fall short.
Such was the case with the Amazon Key system that allows a delivery person to enter a home and leave as a resident watches on a camera. There was reportedly a vulnerability that allowed a person to freeze the camera on a single frame and go back inside the house after it appeared they’d left.
A survey published by iQor revealed that about 70 percent of consumers are worried about their smart home devices getting hacked.
If manufacturers don’t start taking steps to prevent that and showing buyers how they have, the marketplace momentum currently enjoyed by smart home gadgets may start slowing down.
Consumers may decide that the lack of security they perceive with connected home devices is not worth the convenience.
It’s too early to say whether regulations for smart devices will arise and how soon they’ll impact industries.
Even if regulatory measures don’t get established for a while, manufacturers can still take a responsible approach to reduce the probability of cybersecurity breaches and prove they have applied those measures.