RIP IoT security headaches: 5 reasons IoT is dying

June 13, 20184 minute read

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Wouldn’t you like to say goodbye to some parts of the Internet of Things (IoT)? Who needs messy IoT security, DDoS attacks, and devices that don’t always work, right?

Well, you may just get your wish—experts are projecting the IoT devices of 2018, including the device you’re currently yelling at to order new offices supplies, will be obsolete by 2020. That’s just a two-year lifecycle. Is this a sign you should stop splurging on IoT for your home and office tech needs? It just might be—unless you’re one of those people who still stubbornly uses a Blackberry. In that case, you may be asking your decrepit Alexa device for an inaccurate weather forecast for years to come.

Let’s explore five reasons why your IoT headaches might go away sooner than you initially expected:

Problem 1: IoT is a flawed concept

Have you ever heard the acronym “IoT” so many times it started to sound ridiculous? You’re not the only one. “We’ve heard of the Internet of Things for so long that it’s almost lost all meaning,” says Perry Krug, principal architect at Couchbase.

Krug also makes the reasonable observation, “Consumers and workers want devices that do what they need, not ones that aren’t fit for purpose the moment any signal disappears.” It really is the absolute worst when your devices stop working because there’s no internet connectivity. IoT connected devices only work as long as they’re connected—when there’s no internet, they’re just things—and that’s both their strength and weakness.

Problem 2: The IoT threat vector is proliferating

You can probably recall some massive DDoS attacks with ease. Remember the Mirai attack on Dyn that took down Amazon, Netflix, and Reddit, or the life-threatening security weakness in pacemaker medical implants?

If you think the security situation is grim already, just wait. Hackers are increasingly figuring out how to use IoT attacks for financial gain, as opposed to other motivations, like in the name of politics or for “funsies.” British Chief Constable Michael Barton predicts a looming “crime harvest” as hackers discover everything from toys to your router are completely unsecured.

Problem 3: IoT security innovation is sluggish in response

A recent Ponemon survey found 75 percent of IT pros are worried about IoT security risks. In fact, your peers worry slightly more about getting hacked through connected devices than mobile apps. IoT security improvements aren’t moving at the same speed as IoT innovation. For those of you in the security corner, there’s no question buying secure devices is more important than buying a risky voice-activated device that can set your conference call appointment.

There’s hope, though: A few device manufacturers are stepping up with some seriously secure IoT innovations, like smart locks, facial recognition, and self-healing, hacker-fighting business printers. But most IoT devices without engineered security are risky endpoints that don’t even deserve to live until 2020.

Problem 4: There are too many inflated expectations

Gartner’s 2017 iteration of the Hype Cycle placed IoT at the cusp of leaving the “peak of inflated expectations” and entering the “trough of disillusionment.” Between IoT security issues and the lack of standards, systems, and processes to unlock data from the devices, Gartner predicts it will take 2–5 years before this tech hits its stride—and they may be right.

Problem 5: Most IoT innovations aren’t game-changing office tech

Let’s talk about the coolest IoT innovations and how they could transform the future of your office—assuming you’re in an industry with relatively average IoT adoption, as opposed to a field with sci-fi level options, like IoT for manufacturing. In this instance, best-case IoT adoption could spell business productivity and automation.

Today’s IoT innovations are trying to make it into the office, but are they worth it? Amazon’s Alexa is officially office-ready, but unless you’re willing to commit to a whole bunch of custom dev work, it offers little more than the same capabilities you have at home. Google Home isn’t really there yet, either. Intel’s new glasses wearable, Vaunt, don’t look awful, but after Google Glass, stay skeptical.

There’s also a run on IoT patents and a lot of hype about what could be, but in the meantime, is today’s IoT a game changer for office tech? Not really—especially when you consider the downsides of IoT security.

Wave goodbye to the expensive technologies of yesterday

This isn’t a dirge for IoT. It’s an obituary for the IoT devices that aren’t real game changers and could introduce huge risks to your endpoint security strategy. IoT has potential, but your new home assistant needs to undergo a lot of improvements and security upgrades before it hits the office.

There’s a lot of obsolete office tech, and sometimes, technology honestly deserves to go by the wayside until better options come around. Take the sluggish xerography-type business copy machines of yesterday—today, modern A3 (11×17) multifunction printers are engineered to continuously monitor for security flaws and handle both your printing and copying needs at once, and then some—talk about a win-win. And it’s high time to say good riddance to every annoying part of other bygone tech, like clunky desktop phones, fax machines, and hard-wired projectors.

You can think of this as a manifesto to never lose hope for the potential of IoT. Regardless of whether or not the terms “IoT” and connectivity requirements are still around in 2020, smart devices can be secure and innovative without sacrificing anything. Until the flawed devices of 2018 are buried next to wired LAN, you don’t need to settle for anything but the best—even if it means waiting for smart IoT devices that won’t be an embarrassment after two years.

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