Exploring Physical Security in a More Connected IoT World

March 8, 2016

Simply put, the concept of a connected Internet of Things (IoT) world takes shape from connecting any device with an on and off switch — smartphones, coffee makers, automobiles, wearables, lamps, home, and not to mention more large-scale critical infrastructure, such as the energy grid or public transportation systems — to the network and to each other so that data can be shared. This connectivity enables systems to operate more efficiently, making our lives a little easier. It’s a co-existing relationship between people and things for the betterment of the human condition. And it’s growing … quickly.

Many reliable sources study the growth of the IoT as our world becomes more hyper-connected. And there is no doubt or denying that IoT adoption is proliferating: research firm IDC says that the global IoT market will grow to $1.7 trillion by the year 2020; the World Economic Forum indicates that the number of connected devices is projected to grow from 22.9 billion this year to 50.1 billion by 2020; and IC Insights predicts that new connections to the IoT will grow from approximately 1.7 billion to nearly 3.1 billion in 2019. The statistics are mind-blowing, to say the least, and with this type of global connectivity, a growing number of security challenges will be presented.

Since this technology is becoming more and more ingrained into daily lives, at the very basic level, users need to be able to trust that IoT devices and the data being transmitted are secure from vulnerabilities. If entry points are not protected, cyber-attacks and data acquisition by theft risk are very real. Further complicating security is the deployment of IoT devices that automatically connect to other IP-enabled technologies, upping the ante that these products will transmit data into unsecure environments. Therefore, a collaborative approach to security is recommended. Developers of IoT devices should strive to ensure that users are not exposed to potential harm. At the same time, consumers should be diligent in how they use IoT devices to ensure safety for themselves.

This leads us to the role of physical security – ensuring the safety and protection of people, assets and information using physical barriers and technology in an IoT-connected world. As the old adage goes, “Knowledge is power,” and if this knowledge falls into the wrong hands, overall security can be at stake.

As more data is shared, the possibility for security breaches increases as cyber criminals see the value in hacking into IoT devices, resulting in vast amounts of data from many systems being compromised. Earlier this month, hackers seized control of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s computer systems and would give back access only when a 40-bitcoin (equivalent to $17,000) ransom was paid. According to Forbes, data breaches in healthcare alone totaled more than 112 million records in 2015, which means this is not a rare occurrence.

The physical security industry must work alongside its counterparts in IT security to determine the best ways to protect valuable assets, while at the same time, balancing the IoT with the development of products and services. Converging the two, the Connected Security Expo @ ISC West, sponsored by SIA, brings these two worlds together to building a holistic security strategy for the connected enterprise, including looking at how physical and information security can be used together to mitigate new and emerging cyber threats in a hyper-connected world.

Register for the conference, which will be held alongside ISC West April 6-7, 2016, at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for all the latest in show news.

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