Internet of Things security will be imperative as wearables, automobiles and more sign on

A survey by Intel Security shows expectations for future IoT devices, but we'll need to protect will become more personal things.

A mixture of excitement and danger. No, I'm not talking about a theme-park thrill ride, I'm talking about the future of technology as seen by users surveyed for Intel Security's Safeguarding the Future of Digital America in 2025. Here's a peek at some of the things people think will happen within the next decade:

  • Two out of three consumers expect to access work data using facial or voice recognition
  • 60 percent of consumers believe cars will drive completely on autopilot
  • Seven out of ten survey participants think we will all have wearable devices by 2025 that actively monitor our health and vital signs.

Along with these advances, though, there are also security risks. For example, nearly half of those surveyed believe their families will be affected by cyberbullies in the next decade, and 68 percent think cybersecurity will remain a serious concern in 2025. If you consider how technology is rapidly connecting to and interacting with our day-to-day lives, it's easy to see why security will still be a significant issue.

McAfee's Peggy Baldwin explained in a blog post, "The insights that we were able to glean from this effort provide some interesting takeaways about how accepting consumers are toward connected technology, and just how aware users have become of the security problems that come with smart devices."

The vast majority (84 percent) of people surveyed said they expect their home security systems to be connected to, or managed through their mobile device. That would make the mobile device an Achilles heel for home security. If the home security app can be hacked, or if the mobile device's security is compromised, the home security system could be modified or taken offline.

If a wearable device communicates the information to medical professionals in real-time, you won't have to make an appointment to see a doctor--the doctor will contact you first to notify you of anomalous data. But health information is sensitive, and either the wearable device, or the communications stream from it, could be prone to compromise.

"People have just started to understand that their personal data is not some ethereal thing," said Brian Johnson, Intel futurist. "They haven't quite figured out what's appropriate for others to know about that data. For instance, we don't blurt out our credit card information when we walk into a room. Why would we want our data to do that online?"

If self-driving vehicles, or vehicles with autopilot capabilities become mainstream, it will result in more efficient traffic patterns, and significantly greater productivity for the millions of drivers currently spending hours each day in rush-hour gridlock. However, when our vehicles are controlled by computers, and communicate wirelessly with each other, they are also exposed to hacking and other kinds of interference that could put lives in danger.

Another risk to ponder: Many of these devices and gadgets have no direct user interface, or simple way to apply patches or updates. If it's insecure "out of the box," there's a good chance it's going to remain insecure.

Computer and network security has always been a serious issue, but as the technology we use knows more about us, and directly controls more aspects of our lives, security becomes more than just a "concern"--it's an imperative.

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