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Smart technology ‘will have a dramatic impact in 2016’

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Smart technology has, for years, been touted as a game changer, with the potential to have a significant impact on the way we live. 2015 saw some interesting developments in this area, but experts at MWR InfoSecurity believe 2016 will really be the time for this tech to shine.

Devices

By the end of 2016, some 4.8 billion people will be using smartphones, according to recent research by Forrester. The impact of this on the global economy will be huge, with mobile transactions expected to account for about $1tn (£672bn) in spending in the USA alone.

Nick Walker, head of mobile security at MWR InfoSecurity, said UK mobile ad spending is set to exceed the spending of TV advertising in 2016, with smart phones being increasingly used in in e-commerce.

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“Accompanying this, the wearables market is drastically increasing in popularity with devices providing functionality, such as health monitoring and exercise tracking or even acting as a smart wallet – not just another way to read your SMS messages or a fashion accessory,” he added.

Walker went on to say that businesses developing applications for mobile platforms will need to employ a “thorough security policy and testing regime” to counter the increasing levels of risk of hacks and other forms of attack.

“With the drastic increase in functionality, and the continued growth of e-commerce and advertising in the mobile space, it is almost certain that user’s mobile handsets will be a greater target for attackers.”

Vehicles

Google’s self-driving car has received a great deal of press this year, but this isn’t the only form of smart car that has emerged, or will emerge next year.

“There are a whole host of new technologies being added to our vehicles,” explained Robert Miller, head of smart energy at MWR InfoSecurity.

“From tracking of freight through to controlling our car’s heating from our smartphone, many companies are looking to technology to add value and services to their current offerings as a way of standing out from their competition.”

Telemetrics has become popular within the insurance industry, with firms using data on how vehicles are being driven to appropriately set premiums and potentially detect insurance fraud.

“Several European countries are leading the way on using this technology, so given their early success I predict we’ll see this added to vehicles as standard very soon – perhaps even the next 12 months, or at the very least being offered as an optional component when purchasing a new motor,” said Miller.

Towns and cities

Several years ago, we were promised that we would soon be living in Smart Cities, with councils reducing costs and increasing efficiency by monitoring everything from pipe leaks to car park spaces in real time.

Miller explained a key factor that has slowed this revolution has been the cost of connecting the thousands of low-powered components.

Adopting a ‘build it and they will come’ mantra, companies such as Sigfox have been offering new technologies that can provide this connectivity. This means in many cities a wireless network is already available, so companies can simply plug in their devices.

“With the entry cost dramatically reduced, I would expect to see more and more companies seize this opportunity to bring IoT and smart city products to market,” said Miller.

The dilemma

Unfortunately, where there’s money to be made there will inevitably be bad actors looking to capitalise, and smart technology has the potential to become a veritable gold mine.

Miller said that the increased number of applications of this technology brings with it the increased opportunity for criminals to capitalise.

“Whereas before, technologies were only being used to monitor our fridges or control street lights, the same technology is now being used to monitor and control a building’s security and a city’s infrastructure,” he said.

The expert went on to say organisations need to make sure they apply industrial security to these systems rather than just IT security.

Internet of Things-specific ransomware trojans such as Cryptolocker could no doubt be created, but what has prevented this so far is that, currently, there is little for criminals to gain.

“When Smart Cities and connected cars truly take off, attackers will be sure to follow,” Miller concluded.

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