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The Internet of Things – is it living up to the hype yet?

It’s amazing to think that you can now hire top software engineers and developers whose jobs didn’t exist just a few years ago, to work on projects that seemed like science fiction until recently. For example, mobile app development companies were a distant possibility just 10 years ago, and today this is a huge part of what we specialise in at YouTeam. The Internet of Things (IoT) has long been billed as the next big thing, but with recent concerns about security now at the forefront of this discussion following the high-profile cyber-attack on Dyn in October 2016, how can we expect this to develop in the near future?

Although many people are still wondering what all the fuss was about, devices connected to the IoT have gradually infiltrated our lives. These include fitness monitors, smartwatches, CCTV cameras, media entertainment systems and many more household items, plus a massive range of devices and machines used in industries like manufacturing, engineering, technology and security among others. All in all, it’s estimated that nearly 6.5 billion connected devices are in use around the world right now. Although many people might not think about the IoT, they’re more than likely to be using it every day.

The majority of “smart” devices connected to Wi-Fi are still used by consumers in their own homes for the most part, usually performing convenient and relatively simple functions. Although the applications of this technology will become more advanced in the coming years, everyday consumers are still predicted to account for the majority of their use. Perhaps this explains why security has not been a major issue until recently.

However, all that could be changing in the wake of the major cyber-attack on Dyn in October 2016. The online infrastructure provider – which is responsible for keeping many high profile websites running including Twitter, Facebook and Netflix – was overloaded with junk data requests which caused its servers to fail, taking down many of these big name sites. The culprit was a targeted malware attack which hijacked hundreds of thousands of IoT devices across the world, instructing them to send the data.

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This attack was the first to use the IoT to facilitate an attack on this scale. Perhaps most alarming was how easily this could be achieved. No hacking as such was required, since all the devices used were not secured (including many with factory default passwords), allowing them to be remotely controlled relatively easily by a rudimentary piece of software.

In response, the industry is now scrambling to ensure better security systems are put in place before the IoT is exploited in another high profile attack. Some manufacturers have blamed users for not securing their devices, but this relies on consumers understanding the risks and knowing how to increase their security. It will be interesting to see how the demand for these devices, and how they are integrated into people’s home and businesses, will be affected in the near future.

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