The Pros and Cons of Interconnected Devices

09/06/2021

If you’ve read any technology news recently, you’ve probably heard the term IoT, or the “Internet of Things”. It is a game-changing technology and it’s already pervaded our lives in many ways. But, like with any technological advance, there are some pros and cons to IoT devices.

Here’s what you need to know about IoT, including its risks and rewards.

What is the Internet of Things?

The “Internet of Things” can be thought of as physical objects in the real world that connect to each other through the Internet. Each object or device is a “thing” in this interconnected network. Those things can be smartwatches, smart appliances, cars with embedded sensors, or a system of smart sensors used for traffic control.

For consumers, IoT devices can take different forms. A set of car tires, for example, could contain sensors that alert a driver when they’re low on pressure. You’re probably already familiar with smart thermostats that can automate a home’s temperature control or smart fire alarms that can send you a smartphone alert when they detect smoke. The fitness tracker or smartwatch on your wrist counts, too.

All of these technologies create a much more efficient, automatic, and connected lifestyle for their users. That’s one of the pros; however, they also open the door to some risks that just aren’t present for traditional hardware systems.

That brings us to the pros and cons of IoT devices, which everybody should familiarize themselves with.

Cybersecurity Concerns for Smart Devices

Like every internet-enabled technology, smart devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

As they become more and more prominent in our digital world, we need to develop proper cybersecurity measures that can shield them and the sensitive data they carry from malicious hackers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were over 4,000 cyberattacks every day, with experts estimating the average household is hit with 104 threats each month

You might be thinking that a majority of smart devices don’t actually need much protection. After all, how much damage can a hacker do by gaining access to your connected light bulbs? However, they might use that small, inconsequential foothold into your network to infiltrate other devices that also connect to your wifi. Your personal computers, tablets, and phones can give them access to your private information including bank accounts, health records, credit card data, confidential emails, and much more. 

Learn Cybersecurity and Protect Our Digital World

Every new smart device is a new endpoint in our growing digital world. The bigger that gets, the more cybersecurity professionals are needed to protect our networks, secure devices, and hold the first line of defense against hackers. 

The good news is, you can become a cybersecurity professional and make a career out of securing our digital world. 

Whether you come from a tech background or not, the UCF Cyber Defense Professional Certificate program can give you the foundational skills you need to succeed in the skyrocketing field of cybersecurity.

Here is how the program works: 

  • You can choose between taking classes on-campus or online, two sessions on weeknights and one on Saturdays. 
  • The whole program is a total of 400 hours of in-depth cybersecurity instruction and takes about 10 months to finish.
  • Your instructors will be cybersecurity experts who work in the field, and they will help you practice new skills through hands-on simulations and cyber labs that mimic real-world cybersecurity scenarios. 
  • The UCF Cyber Defense Professional Certificate includes a dedicated career services department that can guide you along your cybersecurity journey. 

To learn more, download the course catalog.

UCF Cyber Defense Professional Certificate course catalog

Pros of the Internet of Things

  • Ease of control: Most IoT devices, at their core, are designed to make life easier for their users. Controlling your thermostat from your phone can save you a trip to the living room. A smart pet feeder can keep your cat or dog from going hungry if you happen to forget their mealtime.
  • Automation: IoT hardware often lets you remotely control from a smartphone or another device. They also offer automation options, meaning the ability to carry out tasks without your input at all. A smart lock can automatically unlock itself if you approach with a smartphone. Some audio systems can “follow” you around the house, automatically detecting which room should have audio playing and disabling playback in empty ones.
  • Physical safety: Arguably, among the most important IoT devices are ones that contribute to the physical safety of their users. Think home security cameras, smart carbon monoxide detectors, or Internet-connected fire alarms. 
  • More information: IoT devices produce data of all types. That data can help you make better decisions and stay informed about aspects of your life -- from the temperature in your home to your heart rate during intense workouts.
  • Cost savings: Electronic devices that can automatically communicate with each other and their users are much more efficient. That can translate to cost-savings for the end-user.

Cons of the Internet of Things

  • Complexity: Most IoT devices are simple to use, but there’s still a learning curve for many of them. Similarly, it isn’t always easy or intuitive to actually set up an IoT-equipped smart home. That means some users may need to enlist outside help to get up and running.
  • Dependence on technology: If you’ve ever lamented the fact that you’re more dependent on technology, IoT isn’t going to help that feeling. There are practical concerns, too. A problematic Wi-Fi network could bring down your smart home, disabling your thermostats, fire alarms, and other critical hardware.
  • Privacy risks: As mentioned earlier, IoT devices produce data. And while you have access to that data, other parties might have access as well. In most cases, bad actors aren’t going to be snooping on your private information. But the risk for that is there.
  • Cybersecurity concerns: Anything that connects to the Internet can be hacked. According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an IoT device’s security settings aren’t guaranteed. You can, however, take steps to protect yourself.
  • The pace of innovation: Technological advancement is inevitable, meaning that your devices will eventually become obsolete. Some people are happy to use older tech in their daily lives, but some tech will need to be replaced.

As our access to interconnected devices increases, so does the risk of a cyberattack. We encourage you to do your part and #BeCyberSmart about how you manage your devices on a daily basis.

Here is our best advice on how to protect your personal smart devices:

5 ways to protect your digital home infographic

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