Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Problem with IoT Devices and the Security Lapses They Create





Today's post is a bit geekier than most, but I've got a purpose here.  As Technology Evangelist it's my job to sometimes bring geekier things to light.  So today you get a post about IoT which is short for Internet of Things.  IoT devices are everywhere now.  If you have an Amazon Echo appliance, it's IoT.  A Google Home device?  IoT.  An Internet enabled thermostat?  IoT.  I figure that you're starting to get it now.

The problem that we are starting to see and will continue to see with IoT is that they tend to have little, or even worse, NO security.  Basically people and companies are plugging all of these little devices into their networks and they are doing so with the somewhat blind confidence that the companies that make them are building in strong security.  However, those devices have minimal security and what little exists can be easily hacked and/or bypassed.

There is growing concern that these devices can be used in nefarious ways or "bricked" which means they can basically be rendered useless by destroying the device's operating system resulting in a totally non-functional device.

Recently a researcher took the time to actually hack a smart coffee machine.  The device could be made to spray hot water, turn on the burner, and cause the grinder to spin constantly.  It was also turned into a device that demanded a ransom to be repaired.

As consumers we need to get smarter about what we expect from our devices and we also need to be more demanding about the security aspect of the things we buy.

As healthcare providers we are expected to keep our patient's data safe and this can mean that we don't want to be plugging devices into our networks without understanding the impact they might have.

I also think as dental professionals we need to demand strict security protocols from the devices we use daily in the practice of dentistry.  If you are a digital impression user imagine the impact it would have on your workflow if suddenly your 3Shape Trios shut down or demanded a ransom to continue to work.  As a profession, we've managed to avoid something like that, but we've also managed to avoid other problems.  That doesn't mean they *won't* happen.  It just means that they *haven't* happened... yet.

There is a good article on Gizmodo about this coffee maker hack with several links to other articles.  If you have an interest, give it a read.  

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