CPS, IoT and the path to…

Technology is an interesting problem. It presents so many changes and so many problems at the same time. The reality of the changes are that many people who in the past wouldn’t be with us, are with us. The security problems created however are somewhat alarming.

The internet of things or Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) presents a series of security problems that will continue to grow. The reality of CPS (IoT) is potentially 50 billion devices in less than 5 years. None of these are going to have massive chipsets as most of them are going to be small. They will have a radio or transmission system and a small amount of security on the chipset installed. That security has to be airtight.

Today most helpdesks receive between 30-40%  of their overall calls about passwords. Imagine what that number is going to be if each of the 50 billion devices has a password. That isn’t the case but boy would that be a huge change. Most of the devices will have limited security on the device. There will be devices configured and established that have significant security. Specific video feeds would have hardened security so that they couldn’t be modified. As for generic feeds, those would remain open. Why worry about someone modifying one stream of video from a specific event if there are 1000 more steams coming beside it. It actually gives away someone’s intent if you know they are modifying the information in a feed.

Now some of these sensors will be small. In being physically small they will have a layer of security (obscurity) that will allow them some flexibility. What you can’t see is harder to manipulate. Hackers won’t however be bound by seeing. They will seek the transmission system of the device so that only works for those looking for sensors. If you are actually looking for a sensor, you probably aren’t looking to truly get around the system. It is quite easy to stand outside any building in this country, lean back as though you are reading a text message (smile occasionally at the brilliance of your texter) and scan for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices. What 10 years ago would have been suspicious behavior is almost de-rigor now. So security can’t rush out and ask people to move on as easily.

So security is and remains a critical issue going forward. One that will grow with each 10’s of billions of devices added. What and how we implement the security of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS or IoT) becomes well in many cases more important than the data we are collecting. I can see you isn’t important if you can modify what I see.

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CPS, IoT and wondering…