The concept, “The Internet of Things” refers to the connection of devices with the internet. This can include pretty much any device – whether it’s your mobile phone, watch, washing machine, coffee maker or television, all these devices have the ability to talk to each other and be connected to the internet. Even smart homes exist now! In fact, there are currently more than 10 billion internet-connected devices and this number will keep rising. Sounds pretty crazy when you consider more than half the world’s population still is not connected to the internet yet our devices are.
Connecting devices online can have a number of benefits, the obvious benefit being that it simply makes life easy. For example, just imagine you have forgotten to turn the lights off at home but you’ve already left for work. Well, it’s no problem when you can easily switch them off through the tap of your phone. Or imagine your alarm clock goes off and notifies your coffee maker to start making coffee. Or what if television sends you a text to remind you that your favourite T.V. Show is about to come on. The possibilities are endless! In fact, my parents recently bought a ‘Smart fridge’, and I must say, it’s pretty smart. It has the ability to send my mum a notification when we are running low on any vegetables or fruits. So it’s quite handy in that sense.
However, while this sounds great and incredibly convenient, imagine the vulnerabilities you also expose yourself to if your entire life is pretty much “connected”. If you think about, if everything is connected, then it can also mean that everything can be easily hacked. As Rachel Arndt describes this dystopian situation:
“The hacked toilet’s lid could be opened and closed remotely, or its bidet function suddenly turned on, leading to “discomfort or distress to user”. The unsecure refrigerator allows hackers into the same network as a person’s computer, which they used to send spam.”
In fact, such hacks have already occurred – in late 2013 and early 2014, hackers got into smart TVs, one refrigerator and routers to send out spam. This is pretty scary as it leaves us more vulnerable and exposed to cyber-attacks on our personal lives. I mean, imagine if someone hacked into your smart home? This could potentially open a new wave of “breaking and entering”.
So while mobilising our devices through the same digital network provides great convenience and efficiency, it is also important to note that it can expose us to greater vulnerabilities. The more online and digitally connected you become, the greater the risk someone can easily tap into your network. As we become more digitally connected, it is important to be vigilant with our security to prevent, or at least minimise the risk of such hacks.