Internet of Things and Antivirus: Reality or Fantasy?

3 Mins read


Internet of things (IoT) for today is one of the most discussed technological trends. It becomes even more promising when another breakthrough technology – artificial intelligence (AI) – is “superimposed” on it. Consequently, very soon, we will face the need to protect our data on a more global level. Does it mean that we will install antiviruses like McAfee, Norton or Bitdefender on our microwaves and refrigerators?

However, we will not overthink now is McAfee good for our washing machine, it is better to understand more about IoT and the risks it poses.

IoT Development

The interaction of these technologies is already taking place actively, and the results look fascinating. Even in the case of people’s lives, the prospects are huge. Let’s take the simplest situations. Suppose we have a connected “trained” network within our apartment – electro devices, light sensors, etc.

They work according to an understandable algorithm – say, the light turns on when the street is dark. But if in summer it happens late, in winter – early, and the owner, perhaps, is not yet home.

Or the person lies on the couch and reads the book, and the sensors are programmed to extinguish the light when there is no movement in the apartment. These are simple household problems, solving which, even primitive AI allows the same devices to be adopted to a variety of external conditions.

IoT is also developing in social spheres. So, say, a special bot can give me a video in the Facebook messenger of what’s going on at my house at the moment. Or transfer data on how many free parking spaces the office has. We like the idea of having a virtual robot assistant who can schedule our meetings and even communicate with the same robot that is built into an online store where we’d like to make a purchase.

IoT Risks                

Nonetheless, as usually the case with new technologies, risks come along with prospects. Today, few people know something about the cybersecurity aspect – and it will necessarily become evident as technology develops. It is difficult to imagine what unpleasant and even terrible consequences the same WannaCry could bring, if it struck IoT – devices in networks in hospitals or, for example, power plants.

But let’s take the same usual domestic situations as an example.

So, imagine that we use the same robot to “communicate” with my connected devices: water sensors, refrigerator, washing machine – anything – getting content, making auto-payments, etc. At this stage, intruders can intercept data – card numbers, some personal information, photos, videos. Soon, it will become a reality. And in the case of public data, such crimes are possible now. What if it comes to traffic management, traffic lights, or, for example, train schedules?

What to Do?

From this, the banalest conclusions follow – protect your data. Password, antivirus, and backup today is natural “digital hygiene.” And now we wonder: do you often put a password on a microwave? Do you use antivirus by programming the refrigerator? Do you make a home phone backup? It sounds anecdotal, but we are on the verge of a time when it will not just be normal, but also necessary.

After all, just as decades ago, there were wild ideas to save personal data on computers, and now we all constantly face the risk of losing it because of treacherous viruses like Osiris or WannaCry.

We are talking about the fact that so far, people have not developed habits to protect their data not only on computers, tablets, and phones but also on other connected devices. Technology is largely ahead of our perception. We are all still waiting for loud cases when criminals, having found a gap in IoT – devices, will steal data or blackmail people. And after them, over time, a new culture of security will also form.

Other IoT Aspects

Apart from IT hygiene, there is another crucial aspect. The nature of the threats we have faced is entirely new to us. The usual antivirus is no longer enough – the viruses themselves have changed, become different. Remember ransomware, which strikes the system and encrypts data before the antivirus has time to update.

These are very different principles. The same, by the way, was true with mobile viruses – intruders attacked, for example, with the help of SMS, for which antiviruses were not created. As a result, existing solutions hit not the problem itself, but its “tails,” which, of course, is not enough.

Bottom Line

In fact, the goal here is not to intimidate. Just like any young technology, IoT carries risks, and people need to be prepared for them. Once for the phrase “save data on your phone,” you would be accepted as crazy, today it sounds natural. Similarly, in a couple of years, no one will be surprised by the words “microwave antivirus.” The corresponding habits will form – it is a matter of time. Threats are more due to ignorance and misconceptions. It is enough to perform a set of understandable actions – and you can not panic. We already passed all this – at first with personal computers, and then – just recently – and with mobile devices.