The Quest for Security in the Growing Internet of Things

Feb 10, 2017

Credit Olli Henze / Flickr

The World Wide Web is 25 years old, but it’s about to have a growth spurt. Technology companies are coming up with more and more things that need to be connected to the Internet. And experts are trying to stay ahead of the curve to keep all those devices, and the people who use them, safe and secure.

Charles Clancy is Director of the Hume Center for National Security at Virginia Tech. Already a huge job figuring out ways to protect important assets and systems, it’s about to get a whole lot bigger. Clancy says the Internet of things is going to more than triple in just the next 5 years from 10 billion devices plugged into the Internet to 34 billion.

“And the majority of these are not smart phones with sophisticated security developed by Apple or Google," says Clancy. "The majority of these are cheap toys or home appliances or power grid relays and the consequence of attacks at that scale are unknown at this point.”

But Clancy says the push is on to create what are called managed ecosystems for all these communicating devices; such as automation for each one to upgrade its own firmware and protect itself. Without that, he says, there’s no way to keep them secure. But what if devices produced overseas were used to launch an attack; who would bear the liability for that? Clancy’s team is also looking at ways to ways to ensure that the device makers are the ones responsible for keeping their products secure, not the end user.