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Connecting up is a dilemma for industry

David Alexander, digital trust and cyber resilience expert at PA Consulting, discusses Internet of Things (IoT) devices in an article published by ADS Advance.

The article discusses key security and privacy concerns related to the development of IoT technologies across various industries, suggesting solutions to combat cyber threats. 

David comments on hacking incidents related to IoT-enabled devices: "You see all sorts of different attacks that have happened, some of which have been on a huge scale. And if you can compromise a huge number of IoT devices, you can rapidly build an enormous botnet that you can use to do nasty things with. Those attacks could be turned on things like critical national infrastructure". 

David points out that a number of IoT areas, which might be vulnerable to attacks in the future, such as self-driving cars, which will need data from roadside sensors - themselves IoT devices as they will rely on some form of connectivity - to provide things such as speed warnings, diversions or lane closures. He emphasises that these could be compromised and cause widespread disruption, and even deaths, on major roads if safety warnings are overridden.       

The article goes on to say that the expansion of consumer goods that are IoT-enabled, such as washing machines and vehicle charging points, could also have an impact on national infrastructure. ''What if an attacker can get into a system, compromise thousands, or tens of thousands of these devices, and turn them all on at once to cause a huge spike in demand for electricity?'' David explains.

"This is why the impact cannot be ignored and why there needs to be work done. But, of course, manufacturers are reluctant to spend money on security because it adds cost and it means they've then got to support the device. When it comes to IoT devices, in the race to the bottom on unit cost and time to market, security is usually the first casualty", he adds.

The article mentions PA Consulting's R&D centre which can design and build products, as well as PA's work in advising various businesses and governments on security matters related to global IoT deployments and IoT regulations. There is also a reference that PA Consulting collaborated with the IoT Security Foundation on creating guidelines for IoT deployments which are now influencing government policy.

Read the full article in ADS Advance

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