THE security of the billions of new devices that will connect to the internet over the coming years was the focus of the first day of the Beyond IoT conference that took place at the Nimbus Research Centre in Cork Institute of Technology yesterday.
The annual conference brings together start-ups, entrepreneurs, and academics to discuss the growing Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
IoT will see the number of devices connected to the internet expand rapidly beyond computers and smartphones to include consumer devices, household appliances, sensors, vehicles and machine components.
At the conference, Nimbus Research Centre manager Richard Linger confirmed plans to expand the conference to Shanghai in China in October.
A number of speakers at yesterday's event highlighted the importance of cybersecurity given the massive increase in devices that will join the global network in the coming years.
Lauren Knausenberger the Director of Cyberspace Innovation with the US Airforce discussed both the benefits and the dangers of more connected devices.
She said that in one instance the US Air Force has saved half a million dollars a week on fuel in a single project through the use of IoT sensors and algorithms. However, hacking such systems could have significant real-world consequences.
"Unlike the prior generations of hacking you are not just hacking someone's computer so you can take their data. The stakes are much bigger now because it causes a real kinetic effect.
"Imagine a hacker gets into a hospital at the wrong time, someone could die. We have to be careful with airplanes, a hacker could take out power grids. These are things that Government leaders have to think about, this critical infrastructure.
Professor John Barrett of the Nimbus Centre said there was also a rush by tech companies to monetise IoT technology with a disregard for the consequences.
He pointed to the “staggering” number of data breaches that occur worldwide in existing computer systems.
“Even the companies that created the global platforms are themselves being hacked in huge numbers," he said.
“We are proposing to happily connect fifty or a hundred billion devices to the internet of things. We are proposing to connect autonomous vehicles. We are proposing to connect people’s personal health devices. We are proposing to connect critical infrastructure to the internet and we are supposed to believe that it will be grand. That there will be no problem with security.” The BeyondIoT conference continues at the Nimbus Centra on the CIT campus today.