The Pros and Cons of the Internet of Things (IoT)

share icon share icon icon calendar September 14, 2021

Over the last few years, we have become familiar with our devices in a way we likely never thought possible. Before, we would search a few words on Google or ask a friend to recall the cast of their favorite show. Automating our home so that the lights turn on while we’re on vacation seemed like a futuristic luxury well out of our reach. 

Today, we interact with devices through voice and apps, giving us a range of conveniences that we likely appreciate but perhaps don’t fully understand. These ecosystems of interactions are known as the Internet of Things, or IoT. 

As we grow more comfortable with our devices and expand them into different areas of our lives, one must wonder: is there a catch?

What is IoT?

The Internet of Things consists of any piece of hardware with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth that allows it to connect to the internet. Oftentimes, these pieces of hardware are considered “smart” devices, such as smartwatches, smartphones, smart appliances, and smart cars. 

The IoT is a network of connected devices and people who collect and share data about how the devices are used, the people who use them, and the environment around them. For example, a smart home consists of several appliances and systems, such as light bulbs and thermostats, that are connected to the internet.

The risks of IoT

The caveat with IoT is that while these devices are “smart,” they’re still hackable. That’s because any device that connects to the internet is at risk of data theft or hacking. Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is risky, especially if you’re performing sensitive activities such as online shopping with a credit card or accessing personal information. Hackers can easily make their way into your device and watch your every move. 

Certain devices store information that can be easily accessed as well. So even if you’re not actively using your device, data can still be taken and shared. Devices like security cameras can also be accessed without your knowledge, allowing strangers with questionable intentions to peek into your homes and life whenever they decide. 

While experts expect a cyberattack attempt every 11 seconds in 2021, there are ways you can protect yourself from malicious actors.

Defend beyond smart devices

The proliferation of IoT devices, among other things in the tech world, is exponentially increasing the demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals. If you’re curious about breaking into the cyber field, whether or not you have a tech background, the Kansas State University Cybersecurity Bootcamp can help you gain real-world, hands-on experience in just 10 months.

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The benefits of IoT

Despite the potential dangers lurking, we can’t forget the benefits that IoT provides, from our everyday living to improving the way businesses and communities operate.

Increased efficiency

If you are one of the millions of Alexa users, you are well aware of how such a device can make your life easier. Running low on something? Ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list, which you can access through the app the next time you’re at the grocery store. Don’t want to get up to turn off your bedroom light? Alexa can take care of that for you.  

Aside from helping us move through the day with ease, IoT can also improve the way our communities operate. Smart cities are growing in popularity offering residents efficient ways to commute while conserving energy and reducing traffic congestion and air pollution, as well as streamlining how city workers perform their duties.

Access real-time information quickly

IoT doesn’t just benefit us at home and on the road. Organizations are using IoT to track inventory, log product movement, and use data to keep their customers and employees satisfied. Machine-to-machine communication can also improve production without much human intervention, leaving operations staff members to focus on examining the data without having to manually collect it. 

Remote monitoring 

Since most IoT devices come with applications, it’s easy to monitor your home, health, and other aspects of your interconnected world from anywhere. Increased connectivity allows us to do more from one device—whether it’s setting your thermostat to conserve energy, making sure your home is safe while you’re away, or checking your heart rate while you’re on a run. 

How to secure your IoT devices at home

How do you balance the convenience and efficiency of IoT with the dangers that can come with it? Unfortunately, many IoT users are not aware that these risks even exist, so they’re not vigilant against potential harm. When it comes to cybersecurity, human error often poses the largest risk. Luckily, there are ways to bypass the subpar security measures that are programmed into these devices. 

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