IoT is great….Until It’s Not: Ransomware, Terrorism, Wishes and Curses

Bear with us for the next ten days or so as we “struggle” through a vacation in an area with irregular internet service (at best). No humblebrag for us, just a straight up explanation.

But we’re not completely out-of-the loop while we’re out of the country -- we did discover an interesting new-ish web publication called “IoT University,” via an intriguing article about the flipside of the Internet of Things -- just like every other element of technology, it will both simplify certain elements of our lives while bringing in a whole new set of complications.

Or, as Bruce Springsteen once sang, “With every wish, there comes a curse.”

A year ago, the only real downside to the Internet of Things was the concern about the increasing encroachment of Big Brother (and/or Big Sister). But just in the past week, hackers and other talented/scary hacker types have shown Big Bro and Sis may be just the first gauntlet, compared to Cyber-terrorism and Ransom Ware.

Literally the day after we read that IoT University article linked above, there was a story on The Next Web about a pair of UK researchers for an IT security firm that showed how easily  a smart thermometer can be hijacked and held for ransom until a fee is paid -- in BitCoins of course!

The security guys say it’s an easy problem to fix with a patch, but of course this is just the first salvo in the never-ending whack-a-mole war.

The IoT University piece says that people are being waaaaaay too casual about the potential for abuse -- individual, professional, communal and governmental -- the Internet of Things is facing. They recommend a three-pronged approach to heading these problems off at the pass:

  • Cybersecurity Threat Awareness and Mitigation Training for IT Organization Stakeholders.

  • Make Major New Investments in Cybersecurity Hardware and Software Systems.

  • An Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign.        

Anybody want to place any bets on how soon this happens? What’s the over/under on it happening BEFORE a major breach that, say, shuts down the Northeast’s network of home thermostats in the middle of a huge winter storm?