IoT Security: Do I need a Firewall for my Lightbulb?, was the title of a presentation delivered by two UKZN academics at the annual ITWeb Security Summit held online this year because of COVID-19.
The academics were Mr Barend Pretorius and Dr Brett van Niekerk of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.
The focus of the presentation was on cyber security concerns in the light of the growing number of “smart” devices and suggested ways of securing the devices.
The presentation was based on doctoral research by Pretorius into the cyber security of smart devices in the transportation sector, and investigations by van Niekerk – a senior lecturer in Computer Science focusing on information and cyber-security – into the impact of emerging technology on cyber security.
Advisory group Gartner estimated in 2017 that the number of “smart” devices connected to the Internet would soon be greater than the population of the world.
The devices, also known as the Internet of Things, have sensors able to record large volumes of information in what is known as Big Data. If these devices are not properly managed or secured there could be information leaks or the devices could be used to disrupt the functioning of networks.
Examples include hackers who took control of a university’s smart devices (light bulbs and vending machines) and used them to attack the university computer network, and in another incident, hackers used insecure CCTV equipment to flood Liberia with so much malicious Internet traffic that it effectively knocked the country off the net.
The ITWeb Security Summit, the premier information security practitioner conference in South Africa, this year attracted about 700 participants and comprised more than 60 presentations, workshops and panel discussions held over the four days of the event.
Words: Leena Rajpal