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Welcome to the Internet of stupid (hackable) things

Jen A. Miller | Nov. 30, 2015
The rise of IoT technology brings with it the promise of innovation the likes of which we’ve never seen. But the reality of everything being connected can have unintended consequences, not all of them useful.

That doesn't mean that cars can't use this kind of technology, he says, but which systems to link should be thought through in terms of the possible consequences of a hack.  

"Entertainment systems, if they get hacked, maybe a users' music doesn't work," says Enderle. "A car's control system has to be much more secure because if it gets hacked, the user ends up dead." 

This goes beyond cars, too, when it comes to personal use of the Internet of Things. Enderle points to something many new parents have: baby cams. If they're connected to the Internet and not secure, "you don't want people to watch baby cams to see if you're home or not. Same thing with company security systems. You probably don't want those out on the Web." 

The CIO connection

Of course, not everything on the Internet of Things is useless, and security of those connections is becoming more important for CIOs as more facility systems become web-enabled – and not just in security cams. 

If you've ever watched an episode of Arrow, you know that there are pretty blond MIT graduate computer hackers itching to get into your system and turn off the lights to help a hooded vigilante take our your CEO for having failed this city. 

OK, perhaps something a little less nefarious. But there still is danger of linking something like your lights to the Internet without making that link secure, says Brian Chemel, co-founder and CTO of Digital Lumens. That's why security of the Internet of Things in a corporate environment is just as crucial as the security of your baby cam or your car. 

"Inside a building, lighting's pretty important," he says. And he's not just talking about emergency lighting. Think, he says, about manufacturing spaces. 

If a network isn't secure, "a bad actor might be able to hack in and turn off all the lights," he says. That could put your employees' lives at risk. 

This means that CIOs should be part of the conversation when facilities starts thinking about making their systems part of the internet of things. This isn't always an easy connection to make, says Chemel, because it hasn't been needed before. 

"As facility types think about employing connected devices in the building environment, they need to build relationships with IT. They haven't in the past," he says. "They haven't had to think about security. They haven't had to think about bandwidth connectivity for third party vendors." 

It's not an impossible bridge to gap, he says – he's helping his clients do it all the time – but it’s an important one.

 

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