Circle 01
Circle 02
Circle 03

Join our mailing list

Subscribe to the TSC newsletter to receive exclusive news and advice
  • 17 April 2024
  • 7 min read

CISO Guide: The risks and threats of IoT (Internet of Things)

What is IoT?, Examples of IoT devices, how IoT is used across differing industries, the pros and cons of IoT security and so much more in The Insider.
BLOG Io T Blog

For a full comprehensive guide, download Your Guide to: IoT (Internet of Things)

The Insider blog on IoT Internet of Things

If you possess a smart speaker, fitness tracker, smart meter, or gaming console, you are part of the vast network of Internet of Things (IoT) users. Despite this widespread adoption, many of us overlook our roles as IoT users, regarding these devices as convenient tools but ignoring the risks and threats.

The reality is that the IoT landscape is rapidly expanding. With each passing day, these interconnected devices become more seamlessly integrated into our routines, gaining increasing access to our personal information along the way.

Consider this: In 2017, there were approximately 9 billion IoT devices worldwide. By the following year, that number had surged to 10 billion. Projections suggest that by 2025, the IoT ecosystem could encompass over 64 billion devices, a staggering figure that underscores the pervasive nature of this technology.

As cyber security leaders, it is imperative to recognise the magnitude of this IoT expansion and the associated security risks it presents. By understanding the evolving landscape of IoT technology and its implications for data privacy and security, we can better equip ourselves to safeguard sensitive information and mitigate potential threats effectively.

At TSC, we are constantly at the forefront of common cyber risks, as well as emerging threats, in order to keep organisations and their employees aware of cyber pitfalls and how to avoid them. Our free resources collection includes a comprehensive guide to IoT cyber security, which you can find and download here. This article is a step into the world of IoT risks and threats and timely reminder for CISOs, DPOs, SRIs and cyber security decision makers worldwide.

What is the IoT (Internet of Things)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a vast network of interconnected devices capable of gathering and sharing data through internet connectivity.

IoT (Internet of Things)

IoT devices come in myriad forms, from wearable fitness trackers and smart home appliances to industrial sensors and infrastructure systems. Their interconnectedness enables them to collect, analyse, and transmit data, fostering efficiency, automation, and innovation across diverse industries and sectors.

However, with this proliferation of IoT devices comes an array of cyber security challenges. As these devices become increasingly intertwined with critical infrastructure and personal data, the need for robust cyber security measures becomes paramount. Cyber security leaders must remain vigilant in addressing vulnerabilities inherent in IoT systems to mitigate risks and safeguard sensitive information effectively.

Examples of IoT Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) has infiltrated various aspects of our daily lives, revolutionising how we interact with and manage our environments.

Examples of IoT Devices

Here are some common examples of IoT devices found in homes and beyond:

  • Security: IoT devices such as cameras and doorbells offer homeowners enhanced surveillance and monitoring capabilities, allowing for remote access and real-time alerts to ensure peace of mind.
  • Energy: Smart meters and smart plugs enable users to monitor and regulate energy consumption more efficiently, promoting sustainable practices and cost savings.
  • Entertainment: From smart televisions to gaming consoles, IoT technology enhances the entertainment experience by providing seamless connectivity, content streaming, and immersive gaming capabilities.
  • Appliances: IoT-enabled appliances like coffee machines, refrigerators, and ovens offer advanced functionalities such as remote control, automated settings, and predictive maintenance, streamlining household chores and enhancing convenience.
  • Smart Speakers: Voice-controlled smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa serve as central hubs for IoT integration, allowing users to manage various connected devices, access information, and control home automation systems with simple voice commands.
  • Vehicles: The automotive industry has embraced IoT technology with the development of smart cars equipped with sensors, GPS navigation, and connectivity features for enhanced safety, efficiency, and convenience. Additionally, IoT-enabled charging points facilitate the seamless integration of electric vehicles into smart grid networks, promoting sustainable transportation solutions.

As IoT continues to evolve, we can expect further innovation and integration across various industries, driving efficiency, connectivity, and convenience to new heights.

How IoT Devices are Used in Different Industries

The influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) extends far beyond the confines of our homes, permeating various industries and revolutionising traditional practices.

IoT devices across different industries

Here is a glimpse into how IoT technology is reshaping key sectors:

  • Healthcare: IoT has emerged as a transformative force in healthcare, empowering individuals to take charge of their well-being through real-time monitoring and data-driven insights. Patients with medical conditions leverage IoT devices such as heart monitors and insulin pens to track vital health metrics, medication adherence, and treatment efficacy. This data not only facilitates proactive healthcare management but also enables healthcare providers to deliver personalised care and interventions.
  • Retail: IoT technology is revolutionising the customer shopping experience and streamlining backend operations. Retailers deploy IoT-enabled devices such as smart shelves, RFID tags, and beacons to track inventory levels, monitor product movement, and optimise shelf stocking. Additionally, IoT sensors embedded in store environments facilitate personalised marketing initiatives, enabling retailers to deliver targeted promotions and enhance customer engagement.
  • Fitness: From casual enthusiasts to elite athletes, fitness trackers equipped with IoT capabilities have become indispensable tools for monitoring and optimising physical activity and overall wellness. These devices track a myriad of health metrics, including exercise intensity, sleep patterns, and caloric expenditure, enabling users to set and achieve personalised fitness goals. Insurance companies are increasingly incentivising the use of fitness trackers to promote healthier lifestyles among policyholders, thereby reducing healthcare costs and mitigating insurance risks.
  • Logistics and Transportation: The logistics and transportation industry rely heavily on IoT technology to optimise supply chain operations, improve fleet management, and enhance customer service. IoT-enabled tracking devices, GPS sensors, and telematics systems provide real-time visibility into the movement of goods and vehicles, enabling logistics companies to monitor shipment status, optimise route planning, and minimise delivery delays.
  • Urban Development: The concept of "smart cities" is rapidly materialising as IoT technologies are integrated into urban infrastructure to enhance efficiency, sustainability, and quality of life. Sensor networks embedded in roads, streetlights, and public amenities enable real-time monitoring of traffic flow, environmental conditions, and infrastructure integrity. By leveraging this data, city planners can optimise traffic management, improve energy efficiency, and enhance public safety.
  • Manufacturing: IoT-driven innovations are revolutionising supply chain management, production processes, and quality control. Manufacturers harness IoT devices equipped with GPS and RFID technology to track inventory, monitor product transit, and optimise logistical operations. Real-time data insights enable proactive maintenance, efficient resource allocation, and predictive analytics, empowering companies to streamline operations, minimise downtime, and maximise productivity.

By embracing IoT technologies, organisations can unlock new opportunities for growth, differentiation, and sustainability in an increasingly interconnected world – but vigilance and awareness of associated cyber threats and risks must remain pertinent.

The Pros and Cons of IoT

Let us explore the pros and cons of IoT technology:

Advantages of IoT Devices:

  • Real-Time Access: IoT devices enable users to access information and control connected devices from anywhere with internet connectivity, facilitating remote monitoring and management for enhanced convenience and flexibility.
  • Automation and Control: By automating routine tasks and providing remote control capabilities, IoT devices empower users to streamline daily operations and exert greater control over their environments, enhancing efficiency and productivity.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: IoT technology optimises resource utilisation, reduces manual intervention, and streamlines processes, resulting in increased efficiency and time savings for individuals and organisations alike.
  • Cost Savings: IoT devices contribute to cost savings by monitoring energy usage, optimising resource allocation, and facilitating rapid data transfer, thereby reducing operational expenses, and promoting financial sustainability.
  • Improved Quality of Life: From smart home systems that enhance comfort and convenience to wearable health trackers that promote wellness, IoT devices enhance our quality of life by providing personalised solutions tailored to individual needs and preferences.

Disadvantages of IoT Devices:

  • Cyber security Vulnerabilities: IoT devices are prime targets for hackers and cybercriminals due to their interconnected nature, posing significant security risks such as data breaches, privacy violations, and system compromises.
  • Weak Security Features: Many IoT devices lack robust security features and are shipped with default passwords or outdated software, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and compromise.
  • Limited Software Support: Manufacturers may discontinue software updates for IoT devices, leaving them unsupported and vulnerable to emerging threats, exacerbating security concerns and potentially rendering devices obsolete.
  • Regulatory Lag: Legislation and regulatory frameworks governing IoT security and privacy lag behind the rapid pace of technological innovation, creating gaps in accountability and oversight and hindering effective risk mitigation strategies.
  • Overreliance on Technology: As IoT devices become increasingly integrated into our daily lives, there is a risk of overreliance on technology for even the most mundane tasks, potentially eroding essential skills and autonomy while exacerbating dependency on digital systems, leading to lax cyber security behaviours.

In navigating the complex landscape of IoT technology, it is essential to weigh these pros and cons carefully, implementing robust security measures, training and awareness initiatives and regulatory safeguards to mitigate risks and maximise the benefits of interconnected devices responsibly.

Working with TSC

There is a lot more to be said and will be said about IoT cyber security and the risks and threats associated with it. In fact, at TSC, we understand how enormous and daunting it can seem as a subject for organisations and employees alike. Out comprehensive eBook – Your guide to: IoT – is a terrific place for you to start your deep dive into IoT security.

On top of expanding on the information contained in this article, our eBook also covers:

  • A closer look at IoT devices
  • How secure are IoT devices?
  • Types of IoT threats and risks
  • Case studies on IoT hacks and breaches
  • An analysis of the awareness of IoT users
  • IoT regulation
  • How to use IoT devices securely
Written by
Nas Ali
Cyber security and awareness content creator focused on emerging threats and the next wave of cyber security risks like AI, deepfakes and tech 4.0 initiatives in order to build towards a more secure organisational culture.
View Profile

See how we can help you protect your organisation today?

Circle 01
Circle 02
Circle 03

Join our mailing list

Subscribe to the TSC newsletter to receive exclusive news and advice