F-Secure’s chief research officer likens IoT devices to ‘IT asbestos’

The chief research officer of cybersecurity giant F-Secure has warned that IoT devices could be the “asbestos of the future”.

Mikko Hyppönen made the warning during an interview on Verdict. The insecure nature of IoT devices is not surprising to many, especially following their role in devastating botnets like Mirai. However, Hyppönen warns the situation is only set to get worse.

The root of Hyppönen’s concern is the rapid proliferation of IoT devices that are insecure, or “stupid” as he puts it.

Asbestos was first heralded as a groundbreaking material with miraculous properties. The material was therefore used for a lot of construction in the 1960s and ‘70s, but it was only later discovered to cause cancer.

Experts believe IoT devices are set to massively proliferate from around seven billion today to as much as 40 billion by 2025. Like asbestos, Hyppönen says there’s a concern that IoT devices will become used widely but later will be found to be dangerous.

Hyppönen explained:

“What’s happening right now, around us, I guess would be characterised as IT asbestos. We are currently in the early stages of this revolution, but, eventually, anything that uses electricity will be online.

So this is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Everything will become a computer and right now this seems like an excellent idea to many of the companies in this business.”

In this emerging market, manufacturers are rushing to get their products on shelves and security is too often an afterthought.

Default passwords remain a big problem. Cheap webcams, in particular, have demonstrated the issue with directory websites of online cameras left with default passwords.

As everything from our kettles to our cars becomes a ‘thing’ on the internet, the problem is only set to get much worse. Hyppönen’s idea of the IoT becoming like asbestos doesn’t seem unrealistic without some major changes.

 Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located 5G Expo, IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

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