Despite Security Threats, IoT Is Here To Stay: Study

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The Internet of Things [IoT] will continue to gain traction – leading to immense benefits in the personal and professional lives of people , yet, also raising the question of large scale cyber attacks, disrupting the privacy and security of global citizens, according to a new study.

The study conducted by Pew Research Center and Elon University surveyed more than 1,200 technology experts, with questions focusing on how human connectivity to the internet and other machines will continue to evolve over the next decade. The overwhelming consensus is that while ransomware disruptions and cyberattacks will continue with devastating consequences for individuals and nations, humans will become increasingly connected to the web-enabled things. [Read the full report here]

“Participants in this canvassing said a variety of forces will propel more connectivity over the next decade that manifests in things like cars, medical devices, public infrastructure and home ‘smart’ systems,” said Lee Rainie, co-author and director of Pew Research Center’s internet, technology and science research.

“They argue that humans crave connection; that the Internet of Things will bring advantages that are useful; that people’s desire for convenience will usually prevail over their concerns about risk and these factors will make it difficult – if not impossible – for people to opt out of a highly connected life.”

The Internet of Things is a term first coined in 1996 by Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer who helped create innovative radio sensors at MIT. In 1996, only 4 percent of the world was on the internet. Today, about half of the global population is connected, along with approximately 8.4 billion machines – including sensors, security systems, voice-activated assistances, home appliances, health-monitoring devices, smart meters, fitness trackers and traffic lights.

Of the survey respondents, 85 percent believe the trend of greater connection will continue heading toward 2026. However, a smaller percentage believes threats like identity theft, loss of privacy and a tendency of corporations to exploit the connectedness will cause many people to drop out of and shun the Internet of Things.

But most people say reliance on the Internet of Things won’t likely be optional for most working people, who will need to be conversant in electronic connectivity in order to compete in the marketplace. As billions more everyday objects are connected in the Internet of Things, they are sending and receiving data that enhances local, national and global systems as well as individuals’ lives. But such connectedness also creates exploitable vulnerabilities.

As automobiles, medical devices, smart TVs, manufacturing equipment and other tools and infrastructure are networked, is it likely that attacks, hacks or ransomware concerns in the next decade will cause greater connectivity of objects and people continue unabated.

The study notes that while risk is part of life, IoT will continue to gain acceptance, despite dangers, because most people don’t expect they will experience a worst-case scenario. In fact, many of those surveyed say there will be more attacks with more devastating results as billions more things and people become interconnected and systems become more complex and difficult to manage.

Last month, the WannaCry ransomware attack encrypted data on computers running Microsoft operating systems around the world. There will be many more to come in the coming days. However, human ingenuity and risk-mitigation strategies will make the Internet of Things safer, the study noted.

That means, there’s still some work ahead for the enterprise to ensure they get the maximum gain out of their IoT projects.