IoT Technology: The Risks and Rewards of a Connected World

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t new—it’s been a popular topic of discussion for decades now, dating back to the 1900s. 

One of the first documented examples of an IoT device was a Coca-Cola machine on a college campus. A graduate student in the computer science department was tired of making the trek over to the machine, only to find that it was empty. Taking matters into his own hands, he and some friends installed sensors and wrote a program that enabled students to connect to the machine via the campus network and check if drinks were still available in advance of making the trip. 

IoT devices have since evolved into sleek smartwatches, connected appliances and fancy security systems, but the goals remain the same—to improve efficiency and make life a little more convenient. 

Let’s dive deeper into what IoT technology is, its benefits and some of the risks associated with living in a world of interconnected devices. 

How Does the Internet of Things Work? 

To put it simply, the “Internet of Things” refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are connected to the internet, all compiling and sharing information. 

If a device has a sensor embedded into its physical hardware that can send data over a wireless network, it’s an IoT device. Examples include smartphones, smartwatches, smart cars, smart security systems and even smart contact lenses that can help diagnose critical conditions like glaucoma. 

The primary benefit of IoT devices, and one of the main reasons they’ve become so popular, is that they enable people to automate a variety of mundane and time-consuming tasks. This greater level of efficiency also comes with increased opportunities for collecting and monitoring data, which can be used to improve device performance and build out new features for future iterations. 

Though smart devices offer more convenience, they also open the door to new security risks that you wouldn’t face with traditional hardware. Behind every shiny new data point, is a black-hat hacker looking for ways to steal and leverage that information for their personal benefit.  

Smart Devices Aren’t Hack-Proof 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercrime surged to new heights, with the Internet Crime Complaint Center reporting a 300% increase in daily complaints. That’s quadruple the already startling numbers experts were seeing prior to 2020. 

Amidst this surge, it’s important to remember that all devices that can connect to the internet are vulnerable to cyberattacks. In the blink of an eye, private data like bank details, credit card numbers, emails and health records can fall into the wrong hands.

Wearable IoT devices, in particular, are more vulnerable because you carry them with you in your day-to-day and they can easily connect to public WiFi networks, exposing your personal information to anyone looking for it. Smart home devices are also a major target for hackers and data thieves. 

It’s important to take the proper precautions to keep your IoT devices secure. Some simple ways to protect your data include changing your WiFi router’s default name and password, disabling features you don’t use, keeping software up-to-date and enabling multi-factor authentication. 

For more tips on how to protect your smart devices, take a look at this infographic: 

Learn Cyber Skills and Protect Our Digital World

The IoT industry is rapidly growing and continually evolving to meet the needs of consumers. For perspective on just how large this industry is becoming, it’s important to note that the average American has more than ten connected devices in their household. That’s over 3 billion smart devices actively being used in the United States alone. 

With this demand comes a growing need for skilled cybersecurity professionals who can protect our networks, secure personal devices and defend critical data from hackers. For years, there’s been an increasing shortage of cybersecurity talent, with nearly 465,000 unfilled cyber positions throughout the nation.  

Engineered for learners of all skill levels and professional backgrounds, the NC State Cybersecurity Bootcamp will help you build the hands-on skills and foundational knowledge you need to succeed in the booming field of cybersecurity. 

Over a series of 10-months, you’ll attend live, online classes led by cybersecurity experts and build a robust, job-ready skill set focused on the defense and prevention of cyberattacks. The curriculum includes immersive lectures, individual and group exercises, virtual cyber labs, certification prep and real-world simulations on essential topics like cyberinfrastructure and technologies, ethical hacking, data loss prevention and more. 

In-depth career development resources and support are also included as part of the program. Resume writing, interview coaching, LinkedIn profile optimization and job placement assistance are some of the many tools offered to ensure you’ll be ready to enter the cyber workforce. 

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