The Internet of Things has a dark side

The Internet of Things (IoT) is destined to change how we live and work by merging the digital with the physical, but there’s a dark side to this evolution.

There are possible downsides to the IoT, but a lot of the sector is optimistic

“As the IoT takes off, we want to be there for our clients,” Jeff Martin, Toronto Dominion (TD)’s CIO for channels, says.

“The Internet of Things ties back to consumers’ day-to-day life, and there are banking and payment needs in every-day life,” says Hisham Salama, TD’s head of digital payments tells RBI.

For example, your smart fridge can tell you that you need to buy more milk, or you manage your Netflix account which has your card on file from your smart TV. The phrase that fits best in IoT is ‘connected commerce’; this is how the world is evolving. Ten years from now, every device and every utility that you use will be connected to you.

Simon Cadbury, director of strategy and innovation at Intelligent Environments, said: “The Internet of Things is not the future; it is the here and now. Banking was one of the first industries involved with IoT, via the ATM. There are exciting opportunities out there that will be realised. Payments are obviously an area with a lot of opportunity.”

The use of IoT technology in everyday life is creating pervasive threats to privacy and security – threats that have yet to be adequately tackled.

The rapid growth of internet-capable devices is set to create a staggering amount of data that could potentially be intercepted and manipulated.

The US Federal Trade Commission estimates that fewer than 10,000 households can generate 150 million data points daily. Even at this nascent stage of the IoT industry, early case studies point up the problems ahead.

In 2015, Mattel’s Hello Barbie, designed to let children talk to an interactive doll over a cloud server connection, was hacked. Investigations uncovered vulnerabilities that allowed attackers to intercept the messages.

A year ago it was suggested a smart doll called My Friend Cayla, which was designed to ask children questions and record their answers, was a potential consumer spy.

Hackers could potentially access the doll via bluetooth without using a password and then use the doll’s speaker to communicate with children, and listen in on their conversations. The doll has been banned in Germany over privacy concerns.

The FBI issued a warning last July that many smart toys have been rushed to market without sufficient attention to security and advised people to consider how the privacy and safety of children might be at risk due to the “large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed” through playing with internet-connected toys.

However, IoT threats extend far beyond snooping dolls.

Research in 2015 uncovered a vulnerability in which attackers could steal users’ Google login credentials by hacking a Samsung smart fridge.

That same year, a husband and wife research team revealed they could subvert a TrackingPoint computer-assisted sniper rifle via a smartphone app and wifi connection.

Though they couldn’t make the gun fire (the trigger still had to be pulled), they could cause it to miss its target or turn off its scope.

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