The internet of threats

​With the Internet of Things (IoT) accelerating the pace at which our lives and businesses become dependent on digital infrastructure, we examine the growing threat from cybercrime

First published on September 06, 2017

As increasing numbers of companies and people go digital, it should be no surprise that the crooks do too. With an expected 46 trillion connected devices in use by 2021, according to research by Juniper Research, the many benefits of the Internet of Things will be counterbalanced by the increased threat of cybercrime.

More like Wannacry

The McAfee Labs 2017 Threats Predictions Report​ warns we should anticipate more security threats as the IoT means our homes and offices are filled with smart, internet-enabled devices that could open a backdoor into personal and corporate privacy.

Malware in its various forms will be one of the most common cybercrimes in the years to come. Use of ransomware like Wannacry, which hit organizations around the world this year, has accelerated hugely over the past couple of years, says Juniper Research.

Smart cities in danger

Connected, 'smart cities' are one of the hoped-for benefits of the IoT, but they will also inevitably mean cybercriminals and cyberterrorists trying to gain control of city services like lighting, traffic control and emergency systems.

In the video game Watch Dogs, you can play a hacktivist who takes over the operating system of a futuristic Chicago. You can spy on residents using surveillance cameras, intercept phone calls and cripple the city's infrastructure. But part of that Playstation fiction is already fact – as demonstrated this year when hackers set off 156 emergency sirens in Dallas, Texas

Online banking and ID theft

Online banking accounts and other services involving sensitive content are obvious criminal targets and are vulnerable to spyware, phishing, malware scams and identity theft.

The scale of the problem is growing with the popularity of cloud storage and computing, says Juniper Research, and security providers increasingly offer cloud access and identity management tools.

Human error still the key

Cybercriminals' main weapon of attack is still to trick a human into unknowingly opening the 'door' to them. One classic example is a scammer impersonating a company boss in the hope of getting a junior colleague to wire company funds to a bogus account. A recent FBI report reveals that more than $360.5 million was lost to US business in 2016 through this kind of con.

botnets and DDoS attacks

Juniper Research says DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, often with the aid of botnets, are on the up, taking down the structure supporting digital services, rather than just the services themselves. This shifts the burden of protection from businesses to their network partners.

As organizations who'd proactively protected themselves against Wannacry learned earlier this year, continuous awareness and security upgrades are the best way to beat the coming cybercrime wave. And Juniper Research estimates the annual global spend for enterprise cyber security products will reach almost $135 billion by 2022, a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% over the forecast period.​

TAGGED IN iot; security; cybersecurity; connectivity; cloud; identity and access