Internet of Things device manufacturers need to build security into products from the start as the sector is open to new kinds of threats, a senior Deutsche Telekom executive has claimed.
Ferri Abolhassan, Director of T-Systems and Head of the IT Division and Telekom Security, said the sheer volume of connected products, estimated to be around 6.4 billion, is a problem for operators, vendors and device manufacturers.
Another difficulty, he claimed, was that existing devices are not fit for purpose. He said: "They often run on completely outdated systems and are riddled with vulnerabilities. But even new connectable technologies have no inbuilt security."
He claimed consumers and businesses are unaware of the potential threats to connected devices. He said they could be hacked and used to send the likes of infected spam emails or denial of service attacks.
Abolhassan added: "Most people don't even realise anything needs protecting. The first step is to develop an awareness of the challenges involved. A lot of companies have as yet failed to read the signs of the times and are simply not ready for the connected world. And, in most cases, consumers are no different."
Device manufacturers can protect themselves from threats by limiting the number of devices that are connected and also ensuring they know exactly what is connected.
Other methods include separating critical and non-critical systems to remove gateways for hackers, running vulnerability tests, ensuring software is up to date, and encrypt connections.
He added: "By 2020, [the number of connected devices] is expected to rise to 25 billion. Less conservative estimates even put it at around 50 billion. So it's clear from this figure alone that the Internet of Things is theoretically opening up the network to attacks by cyber criminals on a huge scale."