It’s time to be afraid. Be very afraid. The internet of things (IoT) is here and it should scare the bejesus out of you because everything you own in the future can be hacked.
IoT is a broad term that includes devices which are embedded with electronics, sensors, and software that can connect or interoperate with other network connected devices. These devices are everywhere and they’re growing in number, now nearing 10-billion objects worldwide. Why should you be afraid? And how can Apple make IoT better?
Fear Is Opportunity
Think of the non-PC, non-smartphone, non-tablet devices which have internet connectivity or wireless network connectivity. A few come to mind immediately.
Wireless thermostats, wireless door locks, wireless key entry for cars, wireless cameras for home or office, even appliances which can be monitored by smartphone applications (fridge, washer and dryer, air conditioner, lights and switches) are just a few of the growing number of connected devices.
Why be afraid?
Computer hackers have the ability to crack into the safest systems in the world and we read about their deeds every week. Even the government’s most cherished secrets are not safely stored away in some highly encrypted vault, but fall prey to talented, merciless, and dedicated hackers.
Stores, banks, stock markets, and other financial institutions have been hacked in recent years which resulted in data loss and financial loss. One estimate of the Target hack a couple of years ago put the total loss at $150-million. For every successful hack exposed to the public there are likely many more that the public never hears about.
That means it’s possible for your electronic gadgets, anything connected to a wireless network which is connected to the internet to be hacked from the outside. That new electronic door lock you installed on the front door? It can be unlocked. That new security system? It can be hacked. All the money you parked into a seemingly trusted financial institution? It can be stolen.
Where does Apple fit into this?
One method to diminish such hacking opportunities is to do what Apple does best. Build a closed ecosystem. Apple’s products are notoriously difficult for outside hacking because Apple owns the whole widget from end to end; software and hardware. Apple even tests every application on the Mac App Store and iTunes App Store for iOS. Apple Pay gets high marks for how the company implement transactional security.
In an age where thousands of manufacturers make products which can communicate with other products (and be hacked), the future may belong to the paranoid, and Apple, by setting specific interoperability standards and requirements for home devices that connect to the company’s mobile devices and connect to the internet, may find itself the most trusted brand among devices which belong to the internet of things.