We enjoy a connected world with a fascinating array of devices and applications at our fingertips, if not on our wrists or before our eyes. In just a few years, home networks have gone from supporting a few smartphones, tablets and laptops to scores of devices. Tomorrow’s average home could soon have more online connections than today’s small to medium-sized business. It seems everyone is now in the “IoT tech” business.
On the one hand, creating a hyperconnected, wonderfully ubiquitous internet offers extraordinary convenience and productivity; on the other, this expansion breeds complexity and broader security vulnerabilities that can impact ourselves and infrastructures.
To meet this challenge, we must pursue two parallel but related paths:
- Standards and policy:Tech industry leaders and government policymakers must collaborate to set security standards and policy roadmaps that advance and not inhibit innovation; and
- Consumer awareness:Often the weakest link, consumers need to be aware of their responsibilities, while technology innovators should be aware not to shoulder too much responsibility on consumers.
Today’s connected consumer has to do more than just install antivirus software and a firewall to reduce security risks. A connected lightbulb, toaster or washing machine could be an online fugitive’s weapon to commit a cybercrime that can disrupt or bring down networks. Home networks are only as secure as the gadget with the weakest security connected to it.
The same can be said for enterprise networks. Company and government networks employ sophisticated security capabilities. Yet, it can take just one unknowing employee to click a hyperlink or open a document and subject an entire enterprise to a spear-phishing attack, which remains the major source of breaches inside enterprise networks. Here too, the weakest link rests with a consumer-level user.
Yes, we have met the enemy — and it’s often us.