There is a major trend to connect everyday items to the internet — everything from remote access cameras, security systems, baby monitors, lights and refrigerators to personal tracking tools and other monitoring systems, but a recent distributed denial of service attack illustrated just how vulnerable all of these devices are to hacking.
Unknown hackers used millions of internet of things devices found in homes and offices to facilitate a massive cyber attack that disrupted access to sites such as Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, PayPal, The New York Times, CNN and other businesses that were customers of Domain Name Server provider Dyn Inc. The attacks came in three waves and affected users as far away as Europe and Australia, and disrupted business for multiple online retailers.
While many people are aware of the importance of password protecting their cellphones and commercial internet access, many personal networks and the smart devices that use them are extremely vulnerable to cyber attacks.
“There is huge promise with all of this technology,” explains Christie Alderman, vice president of client product service for Chubb Insurance. “There all kinds of great things that IoT devices are doing to help homeowners such as letting you see who’s at the door, sensing when you’ve left your garage door open, sending you notices when water leaks occur, a fire breaks out or the humidity is too high.”
Many insurers recognize the value of these monitoring devices because they alert homeowners to problems and provide valuable data on the homes that assist in establishing a home’s risk profile. Research firm Gartner, based in Stamford, Conn., estimates that more 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use around the globe this year, but there is more to consider than just taking them out of the box and connecting them to the internet.
“Customers have to keep security in mind,” cautions Alderman. “Is the device encrypted? Are strong network protections in place? Every device has its own IP address and some vulnerabilities.”