Proofpoint, an Internet security firm, has announced the first reported incident of a security problem with connected, “smart,” appliances, which are proliferating in the growing “Internet of Things (IoT).” In this case hackers broke into over 100,00 consumer appliances, including home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, TVs, and at least one refrigerator, to send over 750,00 malicious emails during the period from 12/23/13 to 01/06/14. The appliances were relatively easy to hack because they were set up poorly and/or used the default passwords that came with the device (never a good idea). The Proofpoint News Release stated,” As the number of such connected devices is expected to grow to more than four times the number of connected computers in the next few years, proof of an IoT-based attack has significant implications for device owners and enterprises.” Yes… “Significant implications, ” indeed…IoT networks need to have security. Companies like Cisco need to provide security products and services for home and enterprise networks, and consumers need to use them. Systems can include monitoring software. IoT products can be truly “smart,” and they can monitor themselves and provide security alerts. If users and providers include security as a priority for their IoT systems, the risk of an IoT installation will be no worse than the average computer, and probably better than the average mobile device.
Google Makes a Strong Play into the IoT
In related news, this week it was reported that Google bought an IoT company, Nest Inc., for $3.2Billion. Nest was founded by Tony Fallon, who is generally given lots of credit for the design and development of the iPad while he was at Apple, The company makes a smart thermostat and a carbon monoxide detector. The company’s products are beautifully-designed, and the announcement of Google’s acquisition caused excitement in the technology industry. $3.2 Billion is quite a commitment, even for Google. The move validates the bullish forecasts for the IoT market, and it positions Google to be a major player in that market.